In this exhibition in our Riverside Gallery, sensory impaired locals over 55 showcase life story quilts in Hounslow.
Quilt Tales is the culmination of two 12 week projects, each aimed at breaking down isolation and connecting people over the age of 55 in Hounslow who have sight and hearing loss. It has been conceived and brought to Watermans by Sense, the national deafblind charity.
Sense brought together 16 local residents through creative sessions based on life histories, memories and stories The group also tried their hand at a range of craft skills, such as weaving, knitting and sewing, and worked together to create a community collection of their stories, called Quilt Tales.
As part of the project, the group visited local cultural attractions, including the Musical Museum and Kew Gardens Discovery Tour, where they enjoyed an accessible treetop walk and a visit to the gardens in search of inspiration for the quilt panels.
The Quilt Tales exhibition, which is running for one month, will showcase the two sensory quilts, accompanied by photos, quotes, smells and sounds that were part of the artwork’s creation. Both three metre wide quilts are the result of over 100 hours of story sharing, crafting and sewing between the Hounslow residents and artist Alex McEwan. The textural representations of the residents’ tales feature an array of tactile fabrics and finishes to help people with sensory impairments to experience the quilts’ stories.
Kara Jarrold, Head of Arts and Wellbeing at Sense, says “We’re so delighted to be exhibiting our Quilt Tales at Watermans. This project truly captured the imaginations of the Hounslow residents we worked with and not only helped them to learn new craft skills but also helped locals to make new friends and celebrate their connection to the area they’ve spent so many years in. Having poor eyesight or hearing in older age shouldn’t stop someone being creative or engaging in the community and this project is proof that art can be accessible and flexible. We really hope people in Hounslow will take a moment to visit the exhibition, enjoy feeling and experiencing the quilts and sharing the history of this fascinating group of local residents.”
Alex McEwan, Quilt Tales Artist, says “It has been a privilege to witness our Quilt Tales makers re-engage with old crafts and find the confidence to try new techniques each week. The quilts don’t just represent the makers’ life stories but also show the impact being creative can have on a person’s confidence, mood and sense of self pride. The benefits of creative activity do not stop in later life or when sensory impairment is experienced and our Sense makers and resulting Quilt Tales are a source of pure inspiration.”
Sense is a national charity that has been supporting and campaigning for children and adults who are deafblind for the last 60 years. There are currently around 250,000 deafblind people in the UK. Sense provides specialist information, advice and services to deafblind people, their families, carers and the professionals who work with them. We run services across England, Wales and Northern Ireland and employ 2,000 people, most of whom work in services directly with deafblind people. Our patron is HRH The Princess Royal. Further information can be found on Sense’s website – www.sense.org.uk