All stitched up – Walsall Silver Thread Tapestry progresses.


The Silver Thread Tapestry project is one which I have followed with awe. Tapestry is most definitely avant garde at present with Grayson Perry touring his tapestry most recently in my home town of Coventry.

This Saturday 20th August brings one of the first opportunities to see all the elements of the tapestry together. There are 11 parts to the whole in total and Clayhanger had an input into the design of one of the panels!

Deborah Slade, Creative Development Team Manager at Walsall Council, emails:

‘Sat 20th August 10 – 3pm at The New Art Gallery
See the 11 Tapestries together for the first time and many of the 90 pieces being sewn by local people. Support our progress and meet the stitchers. Silver Thread Artist Hunt Emerson, famous as artist on The Beano will attend to see his artwork converted to stitching.’

Deborah also explains the journey so far:

‘Our Journey so far Jan 2016 – August 2016

Walsall Council Creative Development Team celebrates 25 years of delivering community arts in Walsall. We are proud to announce our success in receiving £73,400 Arts Council England Lottery Funding to deliver a unique year-long community arts project for Walsall Borough

We will involve an army of local people to create 11 unique tapestries representing the six towns and other areas in Walsall Borough. The tapestries will reflect the borough’s living history, diversity and commonality; acknowledge the past, reflect the present and embrace the future.

Creating the tapestries will provide the common thread to produce a commemorative book featuring 25 of Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team projects, which include The Brownhills Miner, Festivals and a host of other projects from the 25 year history of the team’s work.
The book will tell the story of the engaging creative processes and the impact participatory arts have made in Walsall’s communities across an area so diverse in history, heritage and geography.

The Silver Thread Tapestries and the book project will demonstrate how the Creative Development Team is a thread linking people, places and policies and instigating positive change in communities. We wish to celebrate and bring to life that thread and show people how we have sewn it.

The link will be made with the Leather industry by including leather work on the tapestries and we have discovered that Bloxwich was famous for a while for needle making as well as nails and awl blades. Local Company Somerfields (Operational in Sandbank from 1700’s til 1992) made it into the Guinness book of records for the world’s largest needle more than 6ft long for sewing mattresses made by Mr George Davies, master forger.

Midlands Artist Hunt Emerson famous for being an artist on the Beano comic, will create the designs for the 11 tapestries, at which point we will need an army of sewing groups and individuals to help sew the images. The sewing will start after Easter and continue until the autumn to create a unique set of tapestries to be exhibited together and toured around the borough in January 2017.

Over the past 25 years Walsall Council Creative Development Team (Formerly known as Walsall Council Community Arts Team) delivered hundreds of participatory arts projects involving thousands of local people. We will feature 25 of the best project examples in the Silver Thread Book.

Silver Thread project will be the final project of The Creative Development Team. The Launch event will also be a farewell celebration for the Staff so we will look forward to seeing people who have worked with us over the years to celebrate our achievements.

Look out for further press about the Silver Thread tapestries and book as the project unfolds over the year, we want to involve as many local people as we can.

The final piece will be on display on Friday 20th January 6pm – 8pm at The New Art Gallery.
‘Official Launch of the Tapestries tour. Join us and special guests in celebrating the finished tapestries, the result of thousands of hours of sewing by local people.’

The level of skill involved in this piece is phenomenal. And all done by Walsall sewers. Worth a look I’d say!