In the difficult times of social distancing, working from home and, for some people, self-isolating, the Memo wanted to bring people together through making. Led by local artist Jodi Ann Nicholson, the community quilt project was open to all; video tutorials, including guidance and creative ideas were provided and makers were encouraged to paint, embroider or applique squares that celebrated Barry or told a personal story about their connection to the area.
“We had planned for Jodi to deliver quilt square workshops in person at the Memo in our newly refurbished spaces, but the winter COVID-19 restrictions meant we had to adapt so people could take part from home,” explains Megan Merrett, Participation and Volunteers Coordinator at the Memo. “We hope that the quilt has brought the makers together and shows the diversity and positivity of Barry.”
The final Community Quilt, sewn together by Jodi, has been hung in the Cwtch, Bedwas Floyer at the Memo for all to enjoy when the venue is able to open to the public. A virtual quilt has also been created on the Memo’s Instagram feed (@BarryMemo), allowing people to see each square while unable to see the real quilt, and gives the names and stories behind each individual patch, revealing a strong sense of community and hope.
From children as young as seven to retirees, the participants have their own personal perspective of the place where they live, visit or which they remember fondly. Most squares were made in Barry, but submissions were sent in from as far away as Louisiana, USA. Many community groups, local activities, beaches and parks are referenced in the quilt. From local crafters with the Soroptimists and Barry Hookers to Guides and Sea Scouts, from Porthkerry Park in the west to Victoria Park in the east, from gardens and beach huts to wild swimming and music, the quilt stories are a journey through the town. The history and heritage of the area come through with personal recollections of dances and family and through references to Tabernacle Chapel and David Davies. Themes of home and views from the window give us a reminder of the times we are living in and it is clear that many of the participants are dog lovers.
Jodi Ann Nicholson and the Memo connected through the mapping exercise that the Memo is undertaking to identify freelance artists and creatives in the Vale of Glamorgan in all art forms. We are currently developing more community based participatory projects, contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be included in our mapping exercise.