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Significant Seams uses textiles and craft to build community and empower people in vulnerable life moments. Our core artists are specialists in working with vulnerable people, and bring lived experience of trauma or mental ill health. We co-deliver commissioned work and co-develop and bid for larger projects.
Our collective practice draws on nature and explores themes of identity and community. We measure our impact using the CHIME model – evaluating Connectedness, Hope, Identity, Meaning and Empowerment changes – learned from our engagement with the EU funded ‘Art and Social Change’ project and Dr Theo Stickley (Uni. of Nottingham). It emerges from mental health recovery medicine and the 5 ways to wellbeing. Our associate artists are self employed and have a Significant Seams framework contract.
Significant Seams uses craft to mediate potentially awkward requests for help, giving mental health vulnerable people a means of self-expression and a way to contribute when they otherwise have limited ability to participate in community life – and typically are struggling with isolation and/or low self-esteem. We allow the inherent health benefits of art activity to have their impact on those with whom we work, and facilitate further personalised creative development for participants in our projects.
In the 2019 Arts Council funded, ‘Craft of Caring: Mid Devon’, our artists engaged 100+ carers in co-producing a sculptural giant nest. Willow weaving and extreme crochet give the aesthetic to its outside. Eco-dyed and hapa zome patches form a lining where carer participants represented their experience of caring. Some also sculpted birdhouses and mini nests to hold symbolic treasures. We inspired 8 professional artists with caring experience to share personal work exploring ‘What does it mean to care?’ The ‘Care Trail’ exhibition featured 11 artworks by 8 professional artists, plus 2 pieces co-produced with carers, reaching over 6k people (80% of the local pop.). The project developed links to 50+ community groups and founded a strong artistic collaboration. It also led to regular course delivery for Devon NHS Partnership Trust.
Between 2012 and 2017, we provided a welcoming community sewing and creating space called the ‘Community Living Room’ in a high street premises in Walthamstow, East London, which brought people together across various ethnic, faith and social divides to learn new skills and to get involved in community projects. In the period we activated an extensive network of volunteers who contributed a quantified quarter million pounds of community action. These community actions included supportive sewing programmes Sew & Tell ESL, Neighbourly Knit & Stitch, and Supportive Social Stitching and activities at community events. We engaged over 110,000 between 2014 and 2016.
Learn more about our artistic associates here.