Stitching their way back to their heritage
Bangladeshi women in Birmingham attend stitching workshop hosted by New Hope Global (NHG)
Nestled above Birchfield Library is a community organisation providing support to and working closely with the local community. When Amal first came into contact with NHG, the desire for creative engagement was quickly established and it was agreed that Amal would organise a creative workshop for their women’s group.
22 women from a majority Bangladeshi background sat down to stitch with Abeda Begum, a British Bangladeshi and Birmingham-based artist. They were guided through the process, using a combination of stitches and patterns. They sketched ideas onto fabric, selected colourful threads and began to bring their designs to life. Some opted for simple yet impactful florals, others more ornate designs of peacocks.
An atmosphere of excitement filled the room and a constant murmur of conversation transported the women back in time. “They were so happy as they were stitching, it reminded them of their childhood when they used to watch their parents stitch” reported the staff at NHG. As a result, the women shared stories of what their parents produced and how stitching and textiles are familiar in their heritage. Despite the familiarity, only one third of the women had actually participated in this art form before.
NHG described the workshop as enthusiastic, cheerful and reminiscent, a real success for a community reeling from the effects of Covid, tackling social isolation and poor mental health. This workshop allowed the women to bond over memories, share stories and the opportunity to take part in a creative activity that reminded them of their rich culture. Participants were left feeling very positive and with a real appetite to continue to gather to stitch together.
This workshop was part of Amal’s Creative Visualisation Programme. This allows community participants to take part in creative taster activities, encompassing a variety of art forms and giving them an opportunity to participate in activities they do not often, if at all, have the chance to experience. We speak to people about what they might be interested in trying and then work to pair them with local Muslim artists who can provide an opening into that creative practice. The hope is that this will lead to more regular and fulfilling engagement, that it will seed the unleashing of a creative potential that might otherwise go unexpressed.
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