Today was the beginning of a 12 week project called Textile Tales, which is part of Open Door Project Year 2. Artists Musarat Raza and myself, Bryony Pritchard, have been preparing many activities and looking forward to meeting the group, which is a combination of participants from two previous Artlink projects; Feel Good Factor in 2011 and Sikh Elders in 2012.
Today the two groups will meet each other for the first time in the freshly refurbished Artlink basement. The kettle is boiling and the biscuits are ready.
The theme of the project is exploring stories, myths, legends and personal tales within our cultures and finding interesting ways of sharing and retelling these stories through a variety of textile techniques.
We welcomed 3 participants from Feel Good Factor and 6 from Sikh Elders. We began the session by introducing our names including any associated special meanings or stories. By using an OS map of Leeds we marked all the places we live across the city and we noticed similar areas where we live; Beeston, Harehills, Roundhay and Hyde Park.
With a box full to the brim of different objects, everybody is invited to rummage and find an item, which might trigger a memory or a story about themselves. This generated some wonderful discussions within pairs and small groups; yoyo competitions amongst their children, a smart grandfather riding on horseback through Jamaican forests wearing a chain watch, a romantic wedding anniversary ceramic box, knitting lessons from influential neighbours, tricky calculations in an engineering office, secret money for the milkman under a door matt, draped silk scarves and freshly cut flowers within the childhood home.
As the snowflakes began to fall outside, our tales are shared. It becomes apparent, there are many wonderful storytellers amongst us!
With paint, sequins and trim, we decorated our own special wooden box, which will be used in future storytelling activities in the project. One participant drew beautiful birds inspired by a bird watching book she had in her handbag, others created pretty patterns with their sequins.
It was great start to the project and we look forward to hearing more stories from the group next week as we focus on our family trees.