Friday, 15 September 2017

The Banner: Banner and Banter Part 1

I was commissioned by Junction Arts to work on Banner and Banter.  This was a Heritage Lottery Funded project as part of a major regeneration of New Bolsover Model Village, 190 houses built on Model Village lines in the 1890s to house workers from the Bolsover Colliery.  Since the closure of the pit in the 1990s the houses have been looked after by Bolsover District Council.  The houses are currently being majorly refurbished with new rooves, windows, kitchens and bathrooms.
My project was to work with local residents who belong to the Heritage Craft Group to make a banner to mark this major landmark in the ‘Model’s’ history.  The inspirational starting point was the original National Union of Mineworkers banner that was made in the 1950s and now hangs in St Mary and St Laurence Church.  

There isn’t much of a provenance for this banner; we don’t know who it was made by but there were a number of companies that you could order banners from, selecting imagery from their catalogues or commissioning specific scenes.  They employed sign writers and backdrop painters who would work on their specific parts of the banner. The quality of the painting on the Bolsover banner shows real skill.  Union banners were often double sided; the front to signify the union branch and the back often to signify the benefits of belonging to a union.  In the case of the Bolsover banner the front shows a Cavalier and a Miner shaking hands with the Castle and the Colliery in the background.

This photo by John Harris shows the banner being used in the miner's strike of 1984-5.

We borrowed these replica banners from the Nottinghamshire Coalfields Banners Trust so we could have a good look at a range of other mining banners.  Thanks to Joan and John for lending them to us.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

175 years experience, an 80year old sewing machine and a 21st century one

Here are some of the quilt blocks containing family sayings that we built into the ‘Remembered Hug’ project that ran at the National Centre for Crafts and Design last weekend.  It was the closing weekend for the show ‘What have I got to do to make it okay?’ and the opening weekend for ‘Made in the Middle’ and very unusually I had work in both shows.

The idea was to work with residents of Ashfield Lodge Care Home to collect family sayings and catchphrases that we would then digitally embroider out.  This is a photo of Harry and Margaret watching the Pfaff 4.5 in action stitching out Harry’s phrase “Hells bells and buckets of blood”.  As some patients living with dementia find ‘fiddling with stuff’ calming we also embellished the blocks with ribbons, buttons and buckles.
Members of the general public lent a hand adding to our collection of catchphrases and stitching on buttons.  Indeed one lady spent hours on my Grandmother’s 1938 hand powered Singer joining scraps into blocks and the piecing blocks.  We used that machine to construct the first lap blanket with another two being finished off by the lovely team at Ashfield

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Young ProspectUS

I worked on a lovely project organized by Somerset Art Works at Taunton Deane Pupil Referral Unit last week.  These are pupils who are not in main stream education for a variety of reasons. The plan was to give a basic introduction to sewing machines and how their in-built stitches can be used to build up decorative surfaces. 
The emphasis of the workshop was how simple stitch techniques could be used to build up more complex surfaces that could then be turned, if the student wanted it, into a finished product.  After a safe practice demonstration students started using the machines.  The lovely guys at Pfaff had lent me a couple of machines and I bought mine as well and we worked all of the machines hard.  The plan was for students to just stay with me for a half day but one student really got into it and stayed all day making an embroidered purse and then a bespoke make up bag.  This was seen as a great success as she often struggles to stay in school for a long period.

I also bought with me a micro tag gun was not really used as much as I expected.  It’s a very quick way to apply sequins and whilst there was much discussion about then they weren’t really used on the final pieces.  They were however used to make felt ‘camouflage’ fabric with a student with an interest in the military.  This was then further embellished with camouflage sequins that I had bought some time ago but had never found the right project to use them on….until last week!

A big thanks to the teams at SAW, Taunton Deane and VSM UK ltd for their help in making this happen

This is the project blog.