Gradually through the almost two year development of this project, halted by successive lockdowns, the idea of stitch as repair has grown.
In December last year, the actions of a landowner on the banks of the Lugg at Kingsland reached national news. He described taking preventive action to alleviate flooding problems for locals at this registered Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). What is clear in the muddy waters is that the river has many different and perhaps conflicting roles and purposes to different people, life forms and the land.
More recently I have been helping out with testing river samples from the Humber, a tributary feeding into the Lugg. Tests include phosphate and nitrate measuement. Concern has been mounting about pollution levels in the Wye, which the Lugg itself leads into.
Coincidentally, the two testing pots colour matched my riverbend embroidery on the two sides of the nine mill sacks.
Just before the project launch, I went to Rose Tinted Rags to buy embroidery threads. It was the same day I had to pick up a prescription and the bags were mixed up. I like the idea of a prescription of threads.
More recently, I was in London looking at archives, and I passed this amazing shop front advertising itself as an ‘invisible mending service’. I wondered if that’s what this project might be doing, mending the river or at least our value of it through celebrating it through stitch.
Later that night I found a sewing kit in my hotel room; the traditions of stitching and repairing are still present in reminders all around us!
I placed an advert in a local listings magazine and emailed many organisations with interests in all things to do with the River, partly to recruit participants and partly to find potential speakers to help us explore aspects of the River Lugg whilst we stitch and repair.