Saturday, 21 May 2011

Crafting change: putting your heart into it

Today I presented my first craft workshop in the traditional sense — you may be relieved to hear we're talking knitting, sewing and playing with fabric, rather than doing mastectomies on oranges or suturing body parts made of sponge. My workshop was just one part of an entire day dedicated to exploring the "Heart of Change": a concept that was very personal and unique to every participant there.
I invited everyone to design their own square for inclusion in a textile artwork which will eventually hang in the new "Made for Life" centre — a new space in Cornwall for people with cancer and their families and friends. It's to be a nurturing and supportive space. (You can find out more about Made for Life on Facebook).The only direction for the artwork was to consider "embracing change", and I made a display so people could read about where the idea came from and get a sense of what they might do.
I wanted to share the power of craft to help heal: the process of creating is cathartic for the individual, but there is power in looking as well. Other people’s work can reach out to us and help us feel supported, acknowledged, even cared for — like Wendy Jobber's textile at the Hunterian Museum did for me (I wrote about that experience here). 
As a whole, the textile artwork we make will celebrate community and mutual support, while each unique square acknowledges the individual experience. The process and the interaction between this group of lovely women was a pleasure to witness. I wish I could bottle that somehow and include it in the artwork. I will have to think of a way.
I finished the workshop with one of my favourite excerpts from Barbara Kingsolver — she says that she has come back from the "colourless world of despair" by forcing herself to look hard at a "single glorious thing: a flame of red geranium on my windowsill", "my daughter in a yellow dress". It's my hope that, when it is eventually finished and hanging in the Made for Life centre, this artwork will be a visual balm to the viewer, whatever their own story is. Thanks wonderful ladies, for putting your hearts into this project.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Beastly Blessings: my new book idea

Today I put this video together to give others some idea of what's going on in my head in regards to my new book proposal. I am planning to write about 200 years of breast cancer surgery from the vantage point of someone who's been through it themselves. I'd love to know what people think.

video