Stitching #secretsofselfpreservation at home with perfect strangers



On Saturday I arranged all my brightly topped potion bottles, assorted ribbons, thread, scissors, pens and needles ready for a #secretsofselfpreservation stitching workshop as part of the E17 Art Trail. My accompanying exhibition is up in the front window of Venue 68 up to and including this Sunday 14th June. Details are here.


The ladies who joined me were perhaps tentative at first, but we soon shared some very personal stories and lots of self care tips.

One lady chose to embroider the phrase "Drop the filters" on her ribbon, alluding to avoiding both "rose tinted glasses" and "gloomy specs":


The lovely Erin (whose Instagram is well worth a look) named her creation Anti Peer Pressure Potion. In her own words, "Inside is scraps of a job description. On Tuesday I had an interview for a job that I knew I didn't want. The mantra says "Believe that you know what is for you"; my own take on "Trust your gut":





A lovely mother and daughter duo joined me and the three of us had a giggle while struggling with the mystifyingly tiny needles that came in the sewing kit I had bought for the workshop. Their potions read "CCC is good for the soul" (that's Coffee, Cake, and Cycling!) and "Stay Focused":





On Sunday, Sam Merkt came over for a mini workshop and to interview me about my practice as an artist who makes and works at home. Sam is studying at the London School of Economics and writing a dissertation on people who work in their home. A deceptively simple premise, but one with very rich seams; we spoke about everything from making the private public (both in terms of Tracey Emin's bed and hosting an exhibition and workshop in my parent's house), to house husbands, women's voices in the home as yet unheard becoming audible through the internet, the collapse of the welfare state to the rise of surveillance society. It was a fascinating conversation and a very enjoyable stitching session (even if I badly burnt my shoulders sitting in the sun!) and I am fascinated to hear what Sam does next and where her research takes her.






Hopefully I will soon be doing more #secretsofselfpreservation workshops and the project will snowball; Erin is already thinking about what to stitch for this week, so I may have one convert already!