Lynn Setterington, senior lecturer in textiles and PhD candidate lead this session, talking us through her collaboration with Haworth Parsonage Museum and local community groups. The project worked with the signatures the three Bronte sisters used for their male author pseudonyms (the three mysterious Bell brothers). The three signatures were reproduced through couch stitching in large scale onto the hillsides around the museum. Local communities were involved throughout the project, both to embroider pieces of cloth that were then stitched together to form the materials for the Bell signatures, and to advise, assist and give permission for the siting of the signatures on such an ambitious scale and location.
It was fascinating to hear about the nuances and processes involved in this type of arts practice, including the planning involved in working at a large scale, and the importance of involving others and asking for help to make things possible. We also discussed the transient nature of such a piece (which was in place for 2 weeks on the hillside), and the ways in which artworks can have a ‘legacy’, carry messages and continue to move or have an effect even when they are not permanent.
The hillsides around Howarth are the ones the Bronte sisters would have walked whilst they were planning, thinking about and imagining their much loved poems and novels. Margaret Mackey (2010) writes about the important of place and ‘foot knowledge’ for our abilities to imagine our worlds and others, as an essential part of enjoying reading.
“What lets the flat rectangles of the page morph into stories that move through their minds in multi-dimensional ways?”
The Sew Near Sew Far project was a moving way to connect with the role of place and imagination in writing, as well as a powerful feminist story about the experiences of the Bronte sisters (not) being taking seriously as writers less than 200 year ago.
You can see more of Lynn’s work here: http://www.lynnsetterington.co.uk/
Mackey, M. (2010) Reading from the Feet Up: The Local Work of Literacy, Children’s Literature in Education (2010) 41:323–339