Communities are built around friendships and a shared sense of purpose, and our weaving project with an over-50s weekly group called ‘The Good Companions Club’, based on the Kingsmead Estate in Homerton, gave the community a challenging and creative task which helped them do exactly that.
Funded by Sanctuary Housing, the project was brought to ecoACTIVE by club members who wanted to create a textile backdrop for a theatre production they were working on. We got a local crafty artist on-board – Barley Massey from Fabrications, in Broadway Market – and before we knew it she and the Good Companions were up to their ears in fabric, old clothes of their own which carried memories and second-hand items from the Thrift Shop based on the estate.
Weaving was chosen by the women in the Club as their preferred technique, so Barley worked with Immediate Theatre (who were guiding the production’s development) and club members to discuss the characters in the play, what kind of clothes they might wear and how they might want to be portrayed.
A few technical sessions followed, in which everyone learned weaving techniques and started to create their own individual pieces based on the character that each of them was playing; and these were then gloriously combined into a stunning backdrop, with the occasional whole (uncut) piece of clothing adding definition and fun to the piece.
Every member of the group threw themselves into this exploration of new skills, embracing the idea of communicating stories and characters through textiles and the process of turning something old and discarded into a beautiful, creative and collaborative piece of work.