Sewing Memories (2019) and Sewing Memories: Care Homes and Covid (2021)

Aspire Ryde, High Street Gallery

(with Artist Public Engagement)

The original interactive work includes sewing memories of mostly elderly care home residents who experienced the Second World War.  At each revolution of the sewing machine handle, the text of the memory shown on the micro screen shifts upwards by one line, referring to the sewn fabric that normally passes through the needle foot-plate.  By turning the handle the viewer directly engages with the physicality of the old Singer sewing machine and the memories of the ‘make do and mend’ generation.

The second work followed the artist’s wide public call for sewing memories after the urgency and panic of sewing Personal Protective Equipment had passed from shortages during lockdowns in the initial Covid pandemic.  The original generation that had inspired the work were dying in care homes in great numbers across the country and there was a new ‘call to arms’ in the war against Covid by a younger generation to help provide care homes with PPE.  The memories are now interlaced and the work has become a multi-generational piece. 

The work can be experienced simultaneously with viewers having a direct relationship with the sewing machine reading memories on the footplate LCD screen, as well as passers-by watching external projected memories on a larger screen output.

Demonstration video



© Images and text Jan Frith