February 20, 2012
In 2010 I went to the Quilt Exhibition at the V and A. It was there that I saw the quilt which had been stitched by prisoners in Wandsworth. Each prisoner had stitched part of their individual story onto a square and it had been sewn together. Some of these tales were very moving and I must admit I had a few private tears. This particular quilt had been stitched by members of fine cell work and I went home to find out more.
I really would like to rave about this as the work is just so beautiful, the story is moving and its just so bloody brilliant. Anyway here’s a quote from their brochure which puts it more succinctly than I ever could.
Fine Cell Work is a social enterprise that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework undertaken in the long hours spent in their cells to foster hope, discipline and self-esteem.
Last weekend they had a sale of work at Kelmarsh which is just down the road from me and so I volunteered to work in the evening. What a beautiful setting to display such fine work. These cushions take up to a hundred hours to stitch. Once I tried to sew a cushion like this which took me 4 years! Fine Cell Work also make the most wonderful quilts and baby quilts but these take so long to make sadly they weren’t on display.
Work with a standard as high as this does come at a price- but it’s worth every single penny. Subsequently the client base was a little more affluent than the gang of penniless artists I knock about with. Nevertheless social conscience is a wonderful leveller and I had such a great time.