We Are So Glad We Made It!
When we are born, we are wrapped in a blanket. When we die, we are covered with a blanket. Traditionally a large wool covering for warmth on a bed, the blanket has a meaning that is so much more. As a child, a blanket is often used in times of comfort when they are poorly or upset. It is used for soothing, calming and as a kindness gesture, and can often become a favourite possession that a child is both physically and emotionally attached to.
These childhood feelings are unknowingly carried through life. In times of uncertainty, some will retreat to their beds to be wrapped by this source of comfort, through illness or at times of emotional turmoil. In some cultures, blankets are given as wedding presents, for the marital bed and are treated as heirlooms to be passed down through the generations.
The blanket with all its connotations is the ideal vessel to hold these very emotive self-isolation feelings that are being felt during this Covid-19 pandemic. ASCEND wanted to run a community art project to bring people together, to record what lock-down has meant to them and to get creative. With funding from the Herts Valley Clinical Commissioning Group and Hertfordshire County Council and support from Mixed Media Artist Sian Fenwick and Cultural Artist Ekky Archibong, the ASCEND Isolation Blanket Project was born.
In April 2020, forty two community learners who had been on ASCEND creative courses in Jewellery, Art for Wellbeing and Mixed Media Art in 2019/20, were invited to create a personal response to self-isolation. They did this, with support from the tutors, through a mixed media of painting and stitching a square of cloth to create individual pieces of artwork that described how self-isolation made them feel. During the month of June, these were then stitched on an original vintage Witney blanket by Sian. In parallel, a video was made about the blanket, to capture the work being created and people’s thoughts during lock-down. It is hoped that both the blanket and video can be exhibited around the county to inspire other community groups to create similar projects.