Thursday, 31 July 2008

the wisdom of worldly women

I think sometimes in our inner city  craftiness we think that we have invented the wheel.
I'd like to tell you a story.

Our very talented friend Katherine Bowman has been hosting a series of weekly classes at the Banksia Gardens Community Centre in Broadmeadows. It is attended by a group of Turkish women who are part of the Turkish Social Women's Group, which was started as a means of re-connecting isolated women with their local community. They are meeting each Tuesday from February through to October to talk, eat and produce craft.

Katherine chose this quote by Trinh T. Minh-Ha as a starting point, '"May my story be beautiful and unwind like a long thread...." she recites as she begins her story. A story that stays inexhaustible within its own limits.'
In her project summary Katherine wrote "I put forward three proposals to the women and they chose the first, which was to make a long panel of multiple parts. This project involved the women drawing for the first three weeks. I think that it is very hard to be asked to draw something without a prop in front of you, but it is a very interesting thing to do, as you can see very quickly what is important to a person in quite a direct and honest way. A lot of the women said that they had never drawn before and were quite apprehensive, but they all did it. I think that it is important to go through this process, and then to accept the outcome."   

Each week the women began to bring in handmade pieces, shawls, doilies, towels, and each piece was decorated with flowers and leaves, the same images that had been appearing in their drawings. So it was decided that each person would do two panels, one floral and one taken from their drawings.

The intention is to join these panels together to be displayed, along with a professional portrait of each woman and a 'life story'. 

And this bit is the really important part.
This Tuesday one of the women told Katherine that before this project they would meet and spend the time complaining about what was wrong with them, their aches and pains but now they sit and share their memories and the events in their lives and are getting to know one another. 
Katherine wrote to me that 'one of the greatest things about textile work is that it involves time, and the experience of doing is as important as the thing made'.
And this is the wisdom of worldly women.


  1. Rock on.

    I must admit, I do lose sight of that communal thing. Comes from spending so much time working alone.

    I think I need to get out more.

  2. thanks for that piece pene. i'm a cynical old bag, but that was really enjoyable to read and a lovely poke in the ribs...

  3. Last year I was involved with a similar project at the Queen Victoria Womens' Centre. We did textile and craft workshops with African migrant and refugee women from the Carlton Commission flats. They were the cheekiest bunch of ladies I've ever met, and the experience of knitting and crocheting together for a whole winters' day was very comforting.

  4. I think community and craft are completely linked, and have also run projects like these. This is a great one. I agree with Emma - there's nothing like a bunch of women sitting round chewing the cud and stitching together.

  5. that eye is totally amazing, I love this...


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