This is our second Saturday session of bringing Blue Plaques of Intangible Experiences table cloths to Great Horton Village Hall. Leigh is sewing into an image of a cat that a child had drawn onto the fabric during our last session, Heather (far right) is sewing a tennis racket and the Great Horton Village Hall librarian and her boyfriend (left) are sewing images of bicycles. Busy in concentration, they are working together, into layers of images from the previous session or introducing their own. Working on the same fabric stretched over a table you have to be considerate of the person sitting next to you, you cannot yank the fabric, as it would interfere with another persons embroidery, there is a lot of give and take, as there is in friendship in a local community.
Leigh is developing running stitch into the table cloth, following the chalky white line created by a child a few weeks earlier. Stitches are very evenly spaced, allowing an even balance between child’s white line and Leigh’s stitch intervention. The alternation between a line created by a child and Leigh’s stitches seems produce a harmony between the two, Leigh’s stitches emphasising the character of the hand drawn line, that seems to be a pictorial motif of a rainbow.
In contrast to the meandering angular drawn lines of a child, Leigh brings a steady even pattern of running stitches, deliberately spaced to create alternating stitch and and hand drawn line, neither one dominating the other. There is not projected outcome for this work, but an intuitive response to what others have left on the surface from a previous session.
June finishes embroidering into the writing that she had started last time we were here in March. It is a coincidence that the content of her writing still applies today, a commentary on the blustery wet weather and being warm and dry in the Village Hall.
I am also carrying on with embroidering into my text I started last time we were here in March. I realise I have been very ambitious, writing too much last week, so I am quickly embroidering my letters to try and get my piece finished. It is possibly silly to be concerned with this given the layers of unfinished elements of embroidery being added into the piece that seem fresh and exciting to me in their unpredictability. Although I could take this fabric home to complete, it doesn’t seem to work that way. The format of a prearranged place and time away from a domestic environment, means you can stitch and not be distracted by other things calling your attention. With June’s music playing in the background, a good solid chair to sit on and table to work at and natural light streaming into the room, this simultaneously private and public endeavour of stitching, helps me to relax. Part of the pleasure of joining in is that I can see how the project works for myself as well as being part of the group dynamic.
Arriving to the same spot, three generations, grandmother, mother, daughter, set up position at the table, picking up the work from where they left off last time. The family seem to have developed a personal ongoing piece, using clear bold words and a strong mastery of stitchery.
We hadn’t predicted imagery would be developed, but it seems small motifs or symbols are appearing. Last time a father, stitching for the first time, developed a teddy bear image on the request of his daughter. This time, cricket bat and ball, tennis rackets and football are being sketched out by Heather. These are universal images we can relate to and that we have in common and reminds me of a traditional crazy quilt I had seen many years ago in the Australian outback, that also had a cricket bat embroidered into its surface.
Heather, beginning to stitch her tennis racket motif. This table cloth seems to be getting richer, the more we work into it. We were asked what we would do with it and wonder if it is a piece we may continue to work on…imminently at the project Humanitarian Handicrafts at University of Huddersfield this June.
Leigh friezes this moment, as the cloth is being folded, and the text is seen running over the cloth. We offered the family the piece to keep and continue to work on at home – we had a proviso – to take an image of it being worked on in their home setting.
The other table cloth is very different, with a more haphazard range of approaches dotted over the fabric. This piece will remain with us for now, to be packed up in the plastic tubs in the background and taken home.