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Our projects are designed to foster needed conversations that connect services and those who need or are likely to need them – and maybe even occasionally directly achieve social change for a community.
Items created in our projects are generally available for exhibition and occasionally, rental, to spread the messages of our work and raise further funds to support it. Visit the page for each project for details of recent or upcoming exhibitions, related events, or products.
“The Softer Side of Regeneration”: aka the Pillow Project
“The Softer Side of Regeneration” was a project to respond to and work with a latent seething frustration in our neighbourhood as the local council touted regeneration investment. Lots of road resurfacing was apparent just as people began to feel area council budget cuts in services personally. We made these pillows to spell and hang protest messages around our neighbourhood, whilst facilitating conversations about what people wished for our area and community. Creative Lead: Catherine West, Technical Design: Debs Jerrad, Photo: Mark Burton
As of 2018, Significant Seams has led 6 community quilt projects. These explored themes with multiple groups, examining a question from a range of perspectives. An initial series with Catherine West as Creative Lead explored the concept of Neighbourliness – and got neighbours talking, then collaborating (and sometimes sewing for the first time), and learning together about local history. Across three quilts, hundreds of people were engaged, intensive work was done with teens with learning disabilities, and over 70 people made patches in response to one of the project questions. A second Series – with two quilts – examined with groups the role of women in society. The project also featured our Suffragette Sash Making Workshops. A series of notecards and notebooks are available in relation to this project. A further quilt project with a primary school explored themes of diversity and inclusion. Two of the six quilts are on permanent display.
As we imagined redeveloping 131 Wood Street our former shop and community space, we decided the age-old motif of a wishing well was feeling rather appropriate. The late sculpture artist Harriet Hammell agreed to help us, and led us in creating this now, a little-bit-iconic soft sculpture with a patchwork roof by Catherine West, knitted grass by Debs Jerrad, Wood worked elements by Mark Fisher, and knitted flowers by a range of volunteers. It sits at the centre of our recurrent friendly challenge – “What do You Wish for our Community?” Over time, the well has grown a garden – what we call ‘The Garden of Aspirations.’ There is raindrop bunting, with people’s wishes. We encourage people to be bold and articulate what they want. Alone it may feel like a drop in the bucket, but together the droplets add up to sea – change.
Artist Sheila Hallissey led the community creation of a tree of all seasons, woven together, adorned with apples, snowflakes, and colourful bird’s nests depending on the season and an archway of flowers from the materials we too often discard, reminding us of the beauty we can create around us, from the simplest materials and positive intentions.
The Giant’s Garden: aka The Poppy Project
This substantial commission from the London Borough of Waltham Forest artistically engaged residents in reflections on WWI, particularly long term direct outcomes:mental health awareness, the changing roles of women, and the importance of individual voice. The project included 79 participatory events, including activities with 4 schools, engagements with 16 major public events, 30 sessions with people with mental health issues and 30 with speakers of other languages. It entailed engagements with libraries, community centres, charities and event organisers, and an artistic and administrative team. Catherine West was creative lead and was actively supported by a team of artist collaborators including Shamal Waraich, Ros Bowman, and Heidi Beach. Fran Reeves also coordinated and managed the involvement of a team of volunteers who contributed 656 recorded hours. The project ultimately co-created over 850 poppies in symbolic colours and using four different methods, and installed three outdoor exhibitions. Public encounters with the project was tallied at 65,000
The Trolley Project
How does food reflect the cultural diversity and connectedness of a neighbourhood? Artist Sheila Hallissey worked with children from Barclay and Sybourn Academies in Waltham Forest and our Saturday Craft Club. Together they wove a response from plastic food packaging into a Shopping Trolley. Significant Seams volunteers and adult workshop participants, inspired by the children, also sculpted food items to help fill the Trolley, and shared favourite recipes on the inside of paper and card food packaging. The completed installation is planned to be on semi-permanent display at Sybourn Academy from autumn 2015, and will be the subject of a forthcoming line of products.