My favourite community project of 2013, was The Napkin Project, initiated by artist, Deirdre Nelson. I had the pleasure of taking part in one of Deirdre's workshop 2 years ago, part of the CTN Conference. She also did a residency, and exhibition in the Sirius Arts Centre in Cobh, (which I made something for too)
Since then, I've been following Deirdre's work with great interest. She is inspiring! Her work brings new levels to the idea of 'artist in the community' combining art, textiles and community practice. Anyone interested in this area should see her work.
The Napkin Project began when artist Deirdre Nelson was working with residents at a dementia care home.
"While she was involved with a project to create artwork for a new dementia care home, artist Deirdre Nelson noticed that residents in Brunelcare’s existing Saffron care home were often fascinated by the textured edges of items, playing with, handling and exploring objects such as the napkins they used at mealtimes. A member of staff told her that one resident would join napkins together to carry her possessions around with her or that another used hers as a vase to hold flowers; a napkin became more than just a napkin. The Napkin Project evolved out of this observation and the other artwork that was created for Saffron Gardens. It has now grown a life of its own".
Since its launch in it has been getting some fantastic press
When trying to come up with the design for my napkin, I ended up in conversation with my little man (just turned 7). The theme was Home, and what it meant to us. I decided it would be a great project to work on together, we dreamed up our favourite things about home, and drew lots of pictures. There is nothing lovelier in the world than a kids drawing. I'd prefer to look at children's art than most modern art, any day. Because I love his drawings so much, the child gave me lessons in drawing, his style. We designed our napkin, full of everything we love about our home (omitting computers, dvds, Nintendo, etc...)
So, we started to embroider together too. I gave him his own hoop,needle and thread. He though it hilarious, trying to poke the needle through the cloth from underneath, and try and get it in the right spot. Think tetris in the Middle Ages. The attention span didn't last long, but it was still lovely to have him involved in some small way. Sometimes I think life is so compartmentalized, we have our family time, me time, work time, etc, all in neat boxes. It is so lovely to participate, as a family, a group, as a community. To come together to create, with no barriers of age, position, and time.
I hope the residents of the home, enjoy the napkins as much as we did in making it.