Learning and Honing our Programmes: the #PatchworkDevon pilot

Three years ago! Three years ago we were alternating stockpiling or bemoaning stockpilers. We were calling our neighbours and loved ones, singing happy birthday as we washed our hands. We were watching in horror tallies, statistics and graphs. We were taking deep breaths of fresh air in unusually beautiful weather and awfully weird circumstances. After some swirling wildness, our personal priorities seemed to fall into an unusually sharp focus.

Over the last three months, we have worked in a limited way to talk with people about this time, and get creative together whilst reflecting on what we want to ‘carry forward.’

We’ve admittedly leant a heavy steer to activities. The patches of the Quarantine Quilts tell us that the priorities that arose include family, connections, cleanliness and health, and surprisingly, probably most frequently! nature.

We have offered 3 workshops each in Barnstaple and Honiton. In each location one was for front line support workers and two for unpaid carers and mental health vulnerable people. We also exhibited the quilts.

Our groups reflected on priorities emerging from that time privately, and then drew a place they feel happy. Heaps of reclaimed fabric were spilled over tables and the floor, and participants were introduced to Catherine West’s ‘improvisational patchwork’ technique. Each participant made a fabric collage representative of a favourite, happy place for them, and turned this into a side of a patchwork tote bag, to ‘carry forward’ their priorities. To add an extra angle to our pride we weighed our bags and can report, we’ve officially reclaimed 1,890 grams of fabric from landfill too.

Since we began planning these sessions, the ‘return to normal’ has become more and more real. We’ve shuffled through the uncertainties of another hard winter season and the brightening of our days makes returning to our popular ‘Textiles and Nature: Crafting Natural Inspiration” course seems more and more imaginable, and exciting. Future Patchwork Devon workshops could include the nature walks, more skills, more sessions.

This seems very imagineable too, because we have had SEVEN enquiries from venues and community groups requesting these workshops and exhibitions. We have secured some further funding, and are now actively planning with a number of groups.

We’d love input from others though… time keeps moving onwards, and we want our next big project and workshops series to respond to where we are at mentally – individually and collectively. How are you feeling about ‘the pandemic’ three years on from the swirling weirdness of our first lockdown?