It won’t be long now until my residency at Newcastle Carers , funded by Newcastle City Council Arts Team, comes to an end. I have been based with the organisation since October last year running weekly/bi-weekly sessions at the different ‘cafe’ groups run at Byker and Gosforth. These sessions are open to carers of all ages, but there are also groups specifically for Young Adult Carers and Young Carers.
We have been working towards making pieces for an exhibition, with it’s opening on the 29th March. The different groups have been working on their own piece. At Gosforth, the group has been working on a textile hanging which takes it’s inspiration from jigsaw pieces, how they interconnect and support each other – just like the group. Each jigsaw piece is painted, using inks which has given us very rich tones and then they are added to using textile glue paints which have a beautiful iridescence. Some of these pieces are then further decorated with stitching, beading, knitting and crochet.
“I feel better when I have been to the sessions – very restorative.”
At Newcastle Carers in Byker, they are making two (if not more) pieces for display. The first is a large ‘tattoo’ style heart which I am having cut in wood and the group are knitting and crocheting squares to cover it, like a patchwork blanket. Blankets are traditionally made for those we love, to warm and protect and this reminds me of a quote from one of the group recently about how coming to the ‘Carers Cafe’ makes them feel:
“When I first started coming it was like putting on a comfy pair of slippers or a blanket on.”
The outside of the heart will be decorated with knitted and crocheted flowers, symbolic of the flowers we would give someone to say ‘Thank you’. This we do not do enough – especially to people who give their time, love and energy to keep us safe and well. Through the middle of the heart will be a ‘swag’ with a phrase or a saying which sums up how the group feel about the support they get from each other and the carers organisation.
At Newcastle Carers, some members of the group are also working towards a collective textile book or a personal one. Some group members have also been making pieces for our project at home, which has been really inspiring to see.
I am also working with a group of Young Adult Carers, who have been very industrious trying out lino printing, batik, fabric painting, weaving and writing. They are also making couple of pieces for the exhibition, including a textile book and possibly their own large ‘tattoo’ heart – but worked in a very different way.
As part of the residency, I am also very fortunate to have a third year art student from Northumbria University working alongside me. He has been extremely supportive to myself and the carers, encouraging people to try different techniques, suggesting ideas and he will be taking the lead on the larger piece made by the Young Adult Carers. We are also hoping that we will be able to take this group to visit Northumbria University, to look at the art department and the art students studios.