Skylark IX Community Tapestry Unveiled!
The Dumbarton-based Skylark IX Recovery Project unveiled the ‘Skylark IX Community Tapestry’ at a launch event held at the Lennox Evangelical Church on Risk Street on Tuesday 28 March.
The Skylark IX Community Tapestry celebrates the life of the ‘Dunkirk Little Ship’ Skylark IX, from her construction as a pleasure boat in 1934 up to her new role today, inspiring those recovering from addictions or facing social isolation across West Dunbartonshire.
The Tapestry, which was created as part of the nationwide Year of Stories, was handcrafted by the Project’s ‘Skylark IX in Stitches’ group (stitcher Heather with children pictured) and members of the wider community.
Over the 14 month mental health and well-being project, the stitchers, who were mostly total beginners, learned the traditional but fading life skills of hand stitching, embroidery and applique.
The resulting Skylark IX Community Tapestry, which has been made mostly of recycled fabric, thread and yarn donated by the community and using wooden battens crafted by the Project’s Community Boatbuilders, brings Skylark’s spirit and her story of resilience and hope to life over 12 vibrant imagined scenes.
Each stitcher also added their own personal stories and creative ideas to the visual storybook along with symbols of Dumbarton’s history. Hidden in each of the 12 panels also sits a small stitched heart representing the love people have for Skylark and the Project has for the community.
Creation of the Skylark IX Community Tapestry was led by Jade West, Community Engagement Lead at the Skylark IX Recovery Project (pictured right) and Suzanne Marshall-Smith, Textile Artist and Historian (pictured left). It follows earlier community mental health and well-being textile projects – The 2020 Skylark IX Lockdown Quilt and 2021 Make Do and Mend workshops for adults and children, both also co-ordinated by Jade and Suzanne.
Unveiling the Skylark IX Community Tapestry, Jade said:
“The Skylark IX Community Tapestry is extra special. It tells Skylark’s story through community voices – voices which are not always captured in mainstream exhibits.
“It has been an amazing labour of love for everyone. Working together on an activity rooted in our shared heritage has also, importantly, been for many of our stitchers a much-needed safe space to grow in creative confidence, gain life skills and make friendships as part of their recovery from the pandemic.
“We are so grateful to all our dedicated stitchers, funders and supporters who made the Skylark IX Community Tapestry possible.”
“Hand stitching and embroidery are both incredibly soothing, mindful activities which help calm the mind by focusing on the present. Each week, many of our stitchers told us they felt calmer and less anxious as they embroidered.
“Everyone brought so much creativity and positivity to the Tapestry. They embraced Skylark’s story and added their own touches giving the finished tapestry so much personality. What they’ve achieved individually and collectively is fantastic!”
Captain Bryan Warren, Honorary Member of the former Dunkirk Veterans Association shared stories with the ‘Skylark IX in Stitches’ group as they planned the panels commemorating Skylark’s wartime service and, later, Remembrance trips for Veterans on Loch Lomond from 1979 to 2000.
Captain Warren (pictured here with Suzanne left and Jade right) concluded by reflecting on the late members of the Dunkirk Veterans Association saying:
“If the boys could walk in here today and see what you’re doing they’d be incredibly proud and thankful. Thank you for all of this.”
INTERESTED IN DISPLAYING THE SKYLARK IX COMMUNITY TAPESTRY?
The Skylark IX Recovery Project is keen to hear from local organisations and venues who may be interested in displaying the Tapestry either temporarily or on a more permanent basis.
Interest organisations and venues can contact Jade West by emailing [email protected]
To our Skylark ‘In Stitches’ Embroiderers – who worked under the guidance of textile artist and historian Suzanne Marshall and our Community Engagement Lead Jade West – Louise Brown, Claire Cameron, Christine Campbell, Fiona McClymont, Sandra Cross, Nina Greenoak, Euan Greenoak, Corinna Lacey, Emma Little, Suzanne Marshall-Smith, Nancy Murie, Carol Murray, Heather Oliver, Margaret Reid, Jade West. Community Embroiderers – Heather Ashman, Lottie Barker, Alexander Calderhead, Janet Cameron, James Currie, Every Voice Community Choir, Dumbarton, Rosemary Harvie, John McMahon, Rachel Robb, Christine Robertson, Anne Warren. Young Embroiderers (Under 13) – Dale Ashman, Eve Greenoak, Keira Greenoak, Mirren McMahon, Hannah McPhail, Fallon Robb, Lochlan Robb, Amelia Smith, St. Patrick’s Primary, Dumbarton. Funders & Supporters – Community Mental Health and Well-Being Fund; Alternatives Community-based Recovery, Dumbarton; Scottish Maritime Museum, Denny Test Tank; Lennox Evangelical Church, Dumbarton; Fabrics & Finery’s, Helensburgh; Thread & Wool Shop, Dumbarton; Cpt. Bryan Warren; Skylark IX Recovery Project Boatbuilding Team.
Skylark ‘In Stitches’ Embroiderers : Back Row L to R: Emma Little, Louise Brown, Margaret Reid, Sandra Cross, Suzanne Marshall-Smith, Fiona McClymont, Euan Greenoak, Jade West. Front Row L to R: Nancy Murie, Corinna Lacey, Nina Greenoak, Heather Oliver.