In the run up to my exhibition, Mapping the Riverhead (October 2014), I ran four drop-in workshops on Sunday mornings. The aim was to stitch the names of men, women and children who lived in the Riverhead area in the 1880s, taking this information from the 1881 census. These labels were to be used to populate one of the large maps (the Sail Map) in the exhibition.
The names were being stitched in black (for men), grey (for women) and blue (for children). People living in the area now were also invited to stitch their own names in red.
It’s easier than it sounds, as we traced off the names from the census in water-soluble pen, followed this to stitch the names, and then soaked the labels in water to dissolve the ink. Once dry, the labels are stiffened with Vilene (the sort of stuff used for cuffs and collars in dressmaking) and then stitched in a loop onto the large map. In this way we can ‘populate’ the map with the names of people who lived and worked in the area at a moment in time.
Lots of visitors to the exhibition (which ran between 17 – 26 October 2014) also contributed their time and stitching skills to create name labels. Around 300 labels are needed in total, and there are some 100 still to stitch, so this is a work in progress!
Thank you to everyone who has helped me so far…