Richmond residents have been brought together through quilt making, creating a lasting memory of life under lockdown.
Residents of London Borough of Richmond upon Thames have shown their artistic flair by creating squares for a commemorative quilt that beautifully captures the challenges and emotions of life during lockdown. The quilt will be proudly displayed at the Museum of Richmond as a testament to the creativity of the local community.
Cllr Nancy Baldwin, Mayor of the London Borough of Richmond 2019-2020, wanted to find ways to support the Borough residents during the last months of her mayoralty when there were no public engagements allowed. Reflecting the need that many residents felt to express their feelings about lockdown, Cllr Baldwin went back to her American roots and came up with the idea of creating a memorial quilt of this historic time - much like those made during the HIV/AIDS epidemic of the 1980s.
In her video call to the community broadcast in May 2020, Cllr Baldwin explained:
“…We all of us have these complex feelings and impressions and I thought it would be AMAZING if we could - collectively - create a work of art - a lasting memorial to this time under lockdown - a corona quilt, if you will…”
The response was astounding with quilt squares being sent from all corners of the Borough. Participants decorated their squares using embroidery, tapestry, knitting, sequins, and fabric paint. A permanent marker was used to sign their names for posterity. Themes include gratitude rainbows, sewing scrubs, #stayhome, baby on board, grandparents, no hugs, neighbours, soap, masks, and kindness. Contributions came from individual participants as well as local organisations like Ham & Petersham Sea Scouts.
In addition to creating a lasting memory, the experience aimed to produce a positive impact on participants’ mental health. Sewing is increasingly recognised as an effective way to manage conditions such as anxiety and depression by focusing on learning or practising a new skill.
Two wonderful quilters, Sue Brown and Jenny Michell volunteered their time and considerable skills to “piece” the quilt together. The resulting wall hanging is a testament to the creativity of our Richmond residents and the ingenuity of Sue and Jenny. A special thanks must go to the Landmark Arts Centre which allowed them to work on the quilt whilst maintaining social distance - possibly a quilting first!
The quilt will be on display at the Museum of Richmond from 14th December 2020. The public will be able to view the quilt in person by booking a free visitor’s slot to the Museum after this date.