PUBLIC ART COMMISSION.
The theme of my textile work for the Gravesham Bloomin’ Lovely festival at Milton Chantry is flowers that heal and pollinating bees. I was inspired by the Chantry’s 700 year history as a hospital, place of religion, Inn and barracks. The work evokes a sense of healing following our collective experience of the current pandemic, for me healing is enhanced by our engagement with creativity, wether we are viewing art or making it.
The textile work is sympathetic to the interior of the Chantry, installed in the far window of the Tudor room where light pours through my work creating a stained glass, lace effect. The hand sewn, repurposed wool blanket and bed sheets reference the Chantry’s history as a military barracks where soldiers slept in cramped conditions and undertook sewing and mending. The textile work shows large embroidered flowers that have historically been used for medicinal purposes, these relate to the Chantry’s past, housing different groups of people and functioning as a hospital. The flowers and their healing properties are; Mountain Larkspur (blue) for lice, parasites and spiritual inspiration, counter to materialism; Prunella Vulgaris (brown) to protect against viruses, infections, STD’s, herpes and chronic diseases such as cancer and diabetes; Indian Rose Chestnut (white) for leprosy, anti inflammatory, gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases; Mullein (yellow) for bronchitis, fever, flu, joint pain and skin conditions.
To engage other senses I have infused the textile work with the smell of lavender, cinnamon and vanilla, filling the room with an aroma and a row of bells summons the community to spiritual service.
Accompanying the textile piece is an installation of miniature beds with blankets embroidered with the healing flowers from the textile work. This reminds the viewer of the Chantry’s time as a hospital and then barracks, when three floors of ‘vermin infested and bat inhabited rooms were used by single men and families, the latter having no more than a curtain around the bed for privacy’.
I wanted to include the work of Gravesend creatives in the textile piece, I produced ‘Bee Embroidery packs’ which the local community collected from the Visitors Information Centre at Gravesend Market. I added the beautifully embellished bees to my textile piece so acknowledging the Chantry’s lively past as an Inn serving mead and honey wine. It was magical and humbling to receive the finished bees, thank you to those who contributed with their time, care and creativity.
The exhibition was accompanied by a family workshop, ‘Making miniature beds’.
Funded by Make It Grant, Gravesham Borough Council.