The latest venue for collecting signatures was the sports centre in Heywood. There were two tables and lots of chairs which did create a nice working environment. The feeling was very different to other sessions and lots of children and families came and chatted. A few staff came and added their signatures to at the end of their shifts.
As the project is only open to adults, the children sat and sewed their parent’s signatures or I gave them ones that had not been sewn which they stitched with relish.
There was overall a very positive response to the project and again, people who had classes and so were not able to sit and sew, donated their signature to the quilt.
Trying out a few ideas now that I have a substantial number of signatures to play with. Always a nice challenge, exploring different compositions and permutations. The vast range of signature cloths I have researched in museums come to mind and all the possible configurations. Debating at the moment between lists and circles, both used in the composition of early signature cloth. The circle reflects the round robin in petitions where circular formats were used so no one signing was singled out as the ring leader.
The last few open sessions are coming up – Sat 27th July at Touchstones 12-4pm and Tues 3oth July 1.30-3.30pm and Sat 3rd Aug 2-4pm at Ebor Studios Littleborough. I am hoping to get to the Rochdale canal festival as well.
If you can’t make a session, here is a “how to” create your own sewn signature – you must live in the borough of Rochdale to take part. Fabric and thread is provided by Touchstones – please collect from their reception desk anytime until the end of August. You can use your own material and thread as long as its 100% plain (bed) cotton and colour fast.
1. The dimensions of the sewn signature need to fit within a standard postcard size, (6 x 4” or 15 x 10 cms) leave room for a border so we can sew them all together
2. Ideally it should reflect your signature, it does not have to be readable – we are collecting names of everyone involved to display alongside the quilt.
3. Draw your name with the water dissolvable pen (if this is not available to you in pencil so it can be erased)
4. Stitch your signature in embroidery thread, anything you like as long as its colour fast. A back stitch, stem stitch or chain are ideal so the line and form of the signature is retained.
5. Hand it or post to Touchstones by the 3rd Sept 2013 with your full name and place of birth
6. Come and see the finished cloth from 14th Dec in Touchstones Gallery.
My afternoon was spent in Middleton, the area feels very village like. The Old Boars Head opposite the library dates back to the 1600’s and the church is perched on a hill behind. The wooden tower on the church is unusual, almost like a tree house, I will have to find out about its origins.
Again Lee Rigby’s memory is all around, the book of condolences was open on the table downstairs. It was nice to talk to people about the project and hear their stories. Sewing the names myself, reminds me of the signature quilt in the Rochdale archives and how we suspect it was all worked by a few hands – you can tell from the style of stitching.
A descendent of Samuel Bamford signed his name and then provided me with lots of books on this famous son of Middleton who was key to the events at Peterloo. I wish I had gone to see the Masque of Anarchy at the MIF and then I would have been better informed. Maybe a trip to the Working Class Movement Museum would be good. I ventured up the hill after the session and found his monument, a moving experience.
A signature from a young man studying in the library confirmed that a few of the signatures I have collected from younger people are more like monograms/tags.
Yesterday I made my first visit to Darnhill near Heywood, my Greater Manchester A-Z proved its worth again. I know a sat nav would be a great help, but I do love pouring over maps. The places names tell you about the landscape around Darnhill – Summit, Back o’ the Moss, Top of Heap and Heady Hill, fabulous.
As ever there was a warm welcome from the group, having just had the annual Darnhill Carnival there was much talk of fundraising and stalls. Amazingly when I began to talk about Please sign here, Barbara told me they had started a signature cloth back in the 1980’s as a fundraiser for the local church. Edna then arrived with the cloth.
Some in the group chose to just embroiderer their first names, so long as we have all the information on the cards, everyone will be acknowledged. A brief discussion on what name we would chose for ourselves commenced, I would go for something more interesting. The issue came up the other week when a woman on tv said she would not let her child play with someone called Chardonny, don’t judge a book by its cover I say.
Some of the group had been into Bury to Lee Rigby’s funeral procession and commented on seeing the PM and Boris Johnson. Overall I left with a great sense of pride and working together from the session, there were some long term friendships (I would guess) within the team.
This week saw me in Heywood, somewhere I have never been before, I spotted this lovely floral display outside the church – reminds me it is well dressing season in Derbyshire. My first session was in the library, yet again seeing how these spaces are used by local people makes me appreciate their worth.
I was joined my a few people, Mai stayed the whole session and we chatted about her background and family. Been born in Malaysia her signature is the first in the project made up of Chinese characters.
I also spoke to a group of young adults with learning disabilities and their carers who were sitting outside and acquired a few more signatures. Kielly, a student was doing some work on the computer and also joined us to sew, as did several library staff. Between sessions I wandered down the high street in search of more pillowcases. None to be found, but it is fascinating exploring new places and recording visual information.
The other session was a little bizarre, I went to the Phoenix Centre, a council run provision. It was fairly quiet but a town planning meeting was on a spoke to a few councillors and amazingly found there is a tablecloth in Rochdale signed by each mayor. I will find out more. There was also a sexual health clinic so felt a little uncomfortable about approaching people. I only realised the next day I had gone to the wrong venue, I was meant to be at the Sports Village and the Phoenix was later in July. Oh well, an interesting experience. Whilst I was there Alison Slater texted with more details on the historic autograph quilt, so we agreed to meet up to discuss her findings.