Set against the traumatic backdrop of COVID-19 and the resulting need for individuals and communities to support one another through it, the Refugee Buddy Project, Hastings, Rother & Wealden initiated an online version of Stitch for Change, a project that began in late 2019 to bring people together through storytelling and making.
They received 95 patchwork squares from people across the community, including those seeking refuge, volunteers, and Supported Education students from Hastings College. This collaboration tells diverse stories of life under the shadow of COVID-19 through hand-stitched patchwork squares that reveal tales of resistance, change, togetherness, isolation, loss and home.
The patches, once sewn together, form four large quilts: a people’s history of a pandemic that sits within the long tradition of hand-stitching as a method of narrating individual and collective life under oppressive, unsettling circumstances.
All In The Same Storm presents these four quilts alongside their makers’ stories, giving visitors a glimpse of each participant’s very different experience. One patch marks the Black Lives Matter movement, another mourns the loss of college life, one depicts the strict rules of social distancing, another celebrates the role of friendship and community in hard times, and another was made in order to share stories of past generations with young children. Several share messages of solidarity with frontline workers.
Throughout the process, participants were inspired by the Chilean practice of arpillera-making: a pictorial applique technique that involved using rags and scraps of fabric to create images that were then sewn on to large pieces of cloth. Arpilleras were usually made by women to depict daily life during times of social and political hardship, recording their oppression as an act of resistance.
All In The Same Storm will be displayed on the walls of the First floor gallery which will also temporarily host an extension to our Café – a welcoming space where visitors can think and reflect with a drink and something to eat.
This project is organised by The Refugee Buddy Project, Hastings, Rother and Wealden working with Jimena Pardo and Janey Moffatt as Stitch for Change. It includes contributions by Lo Recordings.
Please note that the opening date may change according to Government restrictions.