All the structures of everything have gone. My brain space is in a muddle, little decisions have become difficult… I’m finding my brain is to busy- this (A Necklace of Stars) has given me space to be more normal. It’s a very interesting effect, it’s kick started me again.” Participant.
So much of this new project a Necklace of Stars feels so familiar, the wonderful mix of participants, bringing a wealth of different skills, experiences, levels of confidence, everyone bringing something different to the mix.
Many of the participants haven’t done any embroidery for many years. One women sounded very unconfident at the beginning of the conversation, not even wanting to do her own drawings:
“I’ve not done any embroidery for donkey’s years, I used to do tray clothes, and ragging- hearth carpets. I’m not crafty- but this sounds brilliant.” Participant
Then much is surreal- our encounters are over the phone, through the post, our phone conversations move from life in a time of Covid, to embroidered tray cloths, lazy dazy stitch, grandchildren, to the fear of shopping, fear of the virus. Occasionally it is painfully sad, the lady who was isolated, not just by her health conditions, but by the virus.
“I’m very lonely, the only person I see is once a week, and that’s at a distance.” Participant
But everyone I’ve spoken to so far is keen to join in with the project. There is an innate understanding that keeping busy, keeping the hands and brains occupied doing something creative is a positive thing, now more than ever.
“Before I got married, I used to embroider tray clothes. I’ve started knitting again for charity, the Red Cross.” Participant
There is a real delight in the idea that their work will join others, combining together to create one piece. And always the excitement that the individuals will one day have an opportunity to get together, meet each other and celebrate their achievements on the project.
I might not have seen anybody stitch yet, but it’s still been a brilliant start to a project, full of hope. We’ve had our first embroidered square sent back to us from Liz, pictured above. We weren’t expecting any to come in the post for a while, so this was an extra special delight.
And selfishly, it’s helping me get through these times too. It gives focus to my days, something to look forward to- new ways of working, full of excitement and delight.
“You’ve made my day.”
“I’ve absolutely loved talking to you.” Participants.
Lois Blackburn. Lead artist
A Necklace of Stars is a collaboration between housebound, isolated older people in Derbyshire, arthur+martha, Arts Derbyshire DCC Public Health and Derbyshire County Council Home Library Service.