Community Project: Make Do & Mend
- 3rd December 2015
- Posted by: Ami Lowman
- Category: Community Projects
In the Summer of 2015 Making Space met with D-Day Museum to discuss a textile project which would inspire local communities and help raise awareness of D-Day Museum’s collections and The Overlord Embroidery.
Director of Making Space, Lynne elaborates, “We’re very pleased that D-Day Museum, Portsmouth commissioned us to organise this project. The courageous story of D-Day is told over 34 panels, which make up the stunning Overlord Embroidery on permanent display in the Museum. This link with stitch and textiles is what has inspired this project. We wanted all those who took part to revisit the story of D-Day and create a personal response to the theme of Make do and mend.”
Making Space employed the skills of two local textile artists and an initial inspirational trip to the museum was planned to come up with two distinct but complimentary projects that would run along side each other for the duration of the project.
Sewing and pattern cutting expert June Allnutt came up with the idea of the ‘Now and Then’ project, which would be based in Rowner and Gosport. June wanted to focus on the wartime initiative of Make, Do & Mend; transforming clothes into something new, wearable, fashionable and modern.
June wanted to encourage the idea of creating functional items from unused & unwanted fabrics. Participants were asked to bring in old garments and fabrics, as well as using fabrics provided by June, to learn inventive and creative ways to reinvent, up-cycle and reuse. The participants made a range of different items including skirts, bags, pockets, napkins, bunting, and customised t-shirts.
The participants showed a real interest in learning to use the sewing machines and over lockers, and several tried their hand at layering fabrics and doing machine appliqué.
During a visit to the D-day Museum, the group looked at how they could be inspired by shapes and stories featured in the Overlord Embroidery. Throughout the Now & Then project, participants were allowed to work at their own pace and choose what they wanted to do. June taught lots of different techniques and inspired the group with pattern cutting and fashion books from both the 1940s and modern times, highlighting the difference between now and then.
Southsea artist and maker Ami Lowman came up with the idea behind the ‘A stitch in Time’ project, which took place in Havant and Leigh Park. Ami explains her idea, “I was so inspired by what I saw at D-Day Museum that I wanted others to feel the same… The Overlord Embroidery is absolutely incredible; the amount of skill and craftsmanship that has gone into it is extraordinary! I wanted my group to use this amazing resource as inspiration to design and create their own smaller textile artworks”.
Ami encouraged her group to create a range of experimental, detailed and thought-provoking textile samples in various sized embroidery hoops. Learning and experimenting with a range of textile skills including hand embroidery, appliqué, printing, collage and machine stitch.
The finished samples ranged in their content and style, the project encouraged personal and individual responses from those taking part. Many of the group incorporated family heritage into their samples using family photos or letters. Others were struck by something at the museum, like a letter, meeting D-Day veterans or a photo.
Both of the project strands followed the same format of four initial taster sessions, inspirational trips to D-Day Museum and the Overlord embroidery then a series of eight workshops which participants could work on final pieces.
Once all the practical sessions were finished both groups joined together in a celebratory event at D-Day Museum in November. For one cold and windy Saturday afternoon the D-Day Museum Café was transformed into an exhibition space and 1940’s style street party.
Work from both projects was displayed and artists, participants, families, VIPs, veterans and staff from both organisations enjoyed sharing stories, viewing completed displayed, celebrating and supporting the amazing museum and enjoying a scrumptious cake or two.
This project highlighted and supports the ‘Transforming the D-Day Museum’ goal which sees Portsmouth City Council, with the support of the Portsmouth D-Day Museum Trust planning to transform the D-Day Museum with major new exhibitions, a new activities programme and a major new website that will form the ‘hub’ of a national D-Day network in the years between now and the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019.
A full set of photos can be seen on our Facebook page.