Local military sewing group to exhibit at national shows

An inspiring exhibition made by military community groups will display at the NEC Birmingham and the SEC Glasgow in 2018, after first exhibiting at The Green Howards Museum, Richmond this November.

‘Stitched Together’ was launched by the Army Welfare Service to offer military families the opportunity to build relationships in their local community that would create support networks away from home. “It’s grown from a small project to become much bigger than we could have ever have expected, and the project has had a huge impact on participants’ confidence,” explains Kerry Palmer, Community Support Development Worker at the Army Welfare Service.

Rural Arts, a community arts charity in Thirsk, managed the project, inviting two contemporary textile artists to share their skills, mentor the groups and help create pieces for the exhibition. Angela Hall, Director at Rural Arts, partnered with the Army Welfare Service to secure funding from Arts Council England, North Yorkshire County Council and the Armed Forces Covenant to run the project. “It’s fantastic to see Stitched Together getting national recognition for the beautiful work the participants have made and the incredible effort the artists have put in.”

Artists Dionne Swift and CarolAnn Allen worked with four groups at Catterick Garrison, Topcliffe, and Dishforth over a period of two years. In the first year, lead artist Dionne taught the groups basic sewing skills, and then the artists encouraged the participants to explore more creative undertakings. Inspired by the textile collection from The Green Howards Museum, the group have created messenger bags for the exhibition that reflect their experiences of military life and the sewing skills they have learnt. “The messenger bags are a twist on the bags that soldiers would use to carry their armaments” explains Dionne. “Textiles lend themselves to bringing people together. They’re really a vehicle to galvanise the group and to allow the women to support one another as a surrogate family.” Both Dionne and CarolAnn will share their own new work alongside the project at the exhibitions.

The exhibition of the Stitched Together work will run at The Green Howards Museum in Richmond from 11th November23 December. Lynda Powell, Director at The Green Howards Museum comments: “Many of the pieces created draw inspiration from the uniforms and objects we have at the museum, and it’s great to be able to see those references in this exciting new exhibition.” In March 2018 the project will be shown at The Sewing and Stitching Show in Glasgow’s SEC, followed by the Fashion and Embroidery Show in Birmingham’s NEC.