This past year of Covid-19 lockdowns, ‘bubbles’ and isolation has changed the way we interact with people. This time last year we didn’t think of our loved ones as inside or outside our ‘bubbles’. We’ve relied on texting, zooming, sending each other things in the post, waving from a distance. Meeting new friends has been impossible, never mind seeing our old friends.
As we emerge out of lockdowns, we want to rediscover the joy of making new friends, of sharing our experiences and learning from each other’s cultures.
Clapham Park Creative has partnered with East London Textile Arts in an embroidery project connecting two neighbourhoods in Lambeth and Newham. Led by textile artist Sonia Tuttiett, we’ll be working together over three months to create a series of embroidered ‘postcards’ sharing stories and objects that have meant something to us over the past year. Then we’ll be exchanging the postcards with our ‘stitch-pals’ in the other borough and completing the work together for an exhibition. Clapham Park resident and writer Thérése Mullan will be working with everyone to create a collection of stories that will accompany the project.
The idea for the project came through conversations in our photo-embroidery sessions we’ve been running since last fall on Zoom where we’ve had the opportunity to meet new people who have joined us from different parts of London, the UK and even Texas! And we’ve gotten to know some local residents who are already highly skilled embroiderers and were keen to be part of a group focused on textiles. So we’ve commissioned Sonia and the East London Textile Arts — a dynamic group of very international women in Newham — to help us develop a Clapham Park group and to engage with us in an exciting creative exchange.
This initial project will be our way of marking this important moment in our long Coronavirus year — a moment of positivity where we will finally be able to start meeting new people again, travelling around the city and feeling excited about the future. We want to reflect on what we’ve learned about ourselves this past year and what’s become important to us in our home and neighbourhoods. What would we communicate to a stranger — to a penpal — about who we are right now? We’ll be creating embroidered postcards that we will then exchange ‘across the river’ bringing the two groups together to complete the work collectively. Restrictions allowing, we will also be planning field trips to meet each group in their neighbourhood, exchanging stories, ideas and laughter.
The work will be exhibited as part of a Clapham Park Art Month we are planning for July 2021 (announcement coming shortly!), and we are planning to exhibit in Lambeth and Newham public spaces in the future.
The group is open to any resident or neighbour living in the Clapham Park area. It will be an inclusive space able to accommodate all skill levels, from those that have never used a needle to those who can probably teach us a thing or two. We especially welcome those that continue to self-isolate or do not have access to Internet to get in touch as we are developing ways to include everyone until we can all safely meet in person.