Case Study

Quilted: Community, Creativity and Care

Quilted: Community, creativity and care

Quilted celebrated the powerful art of quiltmaking. Stitching a quilt can be an act of protest, a gesture of care, or an opportunity to connect with other people. Quilts can be personal and heartfelt, made with a particular individual in mind. Quiltmaking can also be a collective activity: people can work together to explore and share social, political and creative ideas. 

Quilted represented the work of many hands and reveals multiple stories. The exhibition brought together three distinct groups of quilts to provide a rich conversation about quiltmaking today.

The Threads of Survival quilts were produced across the UK by over 160 people during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of these quilts were made in challenging times and in difficult circumstances. 

The exhibition also featured quilts made by local communities working across Kirklees. These quilts revealed the remarkable creativity and commitment of groups and collectives dedicated to caring for others, combating isolation and encouraging community action.

Download this handout to find out more about the quilts in the exhibition.

Quiltmaking remains an important medium for artists today. Quilted featured a range of quilts made by individual textile artists and makers based in and around Kirklees. These quilts revealed a host of innovative methods, ideas and narratives.

WOVEN curators, HATCH, would like to express sincere thanks to the Threads of Survival team, to the venues, the lenders, and to all of the artists and communities who dedicated their time, energy and commitment to this project. Quilted was organised by Natalie Rudd and Louisa Parry.

The exhibition was supported by Kirklees Council, and Threads of Survival would also like to thank the Third Sector Leaders Supporting Communities and the National Lottery Community Fund.

threads of survival

Threads of Survival is a national exhibition of over thirty quilts and textile art pieces made by over 160 people across England during lockdown. The exhibition has toured to more than twelve venues across the UK since 2021. 

The Threads of Survival project launched in August 2020 with a strong creative brief: make new quilts and textile art on a theme of ‘Life during the pandemic, experiences and observations. And thoughts about the need to ensure a nation’s healthcare.’ The Threads of Survival project is personal and political. It continues the powerful tradition of using quilts and textiles to document important historical events and upholds the right to protest.

Many of the quilts are made up of individual squares, enabling people to work together despite being confined to their homes. The quilts embrace a range of subjects, from the immediate priorities of supporting the NHS and keeping safe during a global pandemic, to personal views and reflections on care, community, politics and the environment. Together, the quilts create an important historical record of challenging and worrying times. They also reveal an abundance of creativity, care and community spirit!

stitched resilience

Researched and created by textile artist Nicola Twynham, and commissioned by WOVEN for our 2021 festival, Stitched Resilience celebrates, commemorates, and demonstrates our resilience, our hopefulness, and the powerful experiences we’ve all had, through the narrative of textiles.

the art of the quilt

This section of the exhibition brought together a range of quilts made by individual textile artists and makers based in and around Kirklees. It provided an opportunity to celebrate the talent on our doorstep and to gain insight into individual practices and motivations. 

For some, quiltmaking is a gesture of care, an opportunity to make textiles for friends and family members, keeping them warm and comfortable. These quilts reveal a wealth of skills and techniques. It is possible to identify patterns and materials gleaned from a wide range of sources, past and present, near and far. For others, working with textiles is a professional practice. For these artists, quiltmaking is a dynamic medium, able to convey a wide range of techniques and concepts. 

Presented together, these quilts revealed the ongoing creative potential of quiltmaking. The possibilities are endless.

community quiltmaking in Kirklees

This selection of quilts was created by communities working together across Kirklees. These quilts showcased the work of various groups and collectives dedicated to caring for others, combating isolation and encouraging community action.

Many of the groups responded to a specific community need or issue. The cost of living crisis, for example, prompted people to take direct action by stitching quilts to keep members of the community warm and comforted. Other groups focused on the needs of specific individuals, including young people leaving care settings or those experiencing loss and bereavement. Stitched with care, a quilt can hold cherished memories, express love and carry hope for the future.

Community groups not only produce beautiful textiles to share with others, they also create a nurturing space for people to talk, share ideas, and make new friendships. If the quilt acts as a gesture of care and creativity, then quilting communities provide a welcoming network of support and inclusion.

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