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Thursday 29 April 2010

Making and Teaching

As you know I love making stuff but I also like helping other people make stuff too! As a community artist and artist educator I get to work all over London with all sorts of people from different communities, ages etc.

For the last three years I have been working on the Geffrye Museum's Asian Women's project to engage the women of Hackney in East London with the museum. So far there have have been two groups, the first are an over 50s group who have lost their husbands and their children have grown up, so meeting up is an important part of their social life. They are all very lovely and so creative. Most of the time I just give them materials and they instinctively know what to do with them!

The second group is a younger Asian Women's group who live in a local estate. They are mainly in their 20s and don't work, so while their children are at school, they meet up and do craft activities together.

This Spring I worked with both groups to create an installation in the museum inspired at the recent Maharaja: the Splendour of India's Royal Courts exhibition at the V&A with the concept of creating a modern day Moghul living room. The groups created soft furnishings using hand embroidery, applique, sewing and painting.

The pieces aren't stereotypically Asian looking, they have a very modern East/West twist to them, representing the women's own lifestyles.

We started with an embroidery project, using different stitches to create a group wall hanging displayed at the back and then the women worked on individual projects for their own homes.

The quality of the work was amazing, one lady claimed she'd never done embroidery before but had seen her sisters do it and came up with this remarkable floral design! Wow! For most of the women it was the first time they had done any embroidery in ages but old school memories of learning the skill came flooding back to them in no time.

The installation is still on display at the museum in the downstairs art rooms so pop in and see it if you can!

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