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Not currently on display at the V&A

Sewn Antidote

Quilt
2020 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

‘Sewn Antidote’ is a collaborative textile artwork reflecting on the Covid-19 pandemic. On the ‘Sewn Antidote’ Instagram account, Lara states, ‘I am interested in documenting social history through collaborative stitch projects and how the therapeutic benefits of stitching with a shared aim can create wellbeing and connection in these times of isolation.’
The project was born out of a desire to keep people in touch and connected through a communal stitching project. Its overall design and concept are by Lara Hailey, while the 90 roundels are the work of her students plus various individuals who responded to the Instagram post. The roundels incorporate the free expression of the contributors and are diverse in theme, message and technique. Together they build a poignant and comprehensive picture of society’s communal battle with Covid.
There are many expressions of thanks, such as those to charity groups, NHS, postal and key workers. Others deal with sentiments and emotions provoked by isolation and separation. Several illustrate the dramatic change in lifestyle for individuals: ‘The playground is closed’, ‘GARDENING NOT RUGBY’, ‘I LOVE BRIDGE ONLINE’. But many tackle the more critical issues such as the death toll or severe illness; an appliquéd grim reaper is accompanied by the embroidered words, ‘NOT TODAY! PHIL returns home from ICU 21.04.20’. The societal and political climate is also recorded in references to key workers’ pay, homelessness and a comment linking the killing of George Floyd to one of the symptoms of the illness: ‘I can’t Breathe’. Political leaders’ handling of the pandemic is referenced: Boris Johnson is portrayed twice, and Donald Trump’s suggested ingested disinfectant cure is alluded to.
The roundels include decorative machine embroidery, hand embroidery, knotting, knitting and appliqué. Unusual materials such as metal eyelets and a sheet of toilet paper, ‘Unpick … … in case of emergency’, are incorporated. The contributors’ design and sewing expertise ranges from beginner to professional and this variety of execution adds to the impact of the quilt as a product of communal effort.
Overall, ‘Sewn Antidote’, as its name suggests, is an uplifting object which expresses human solidarity and concern. An emblem of homeliness and comfort, a quilt is the perfect vehicle for these expressions of emotion and records of memories, its stitched textile form imparting both emotional and physical reassurance.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
The roundels include examples of running stitch, blanket stitch, couching stitch, chain stitch, backstitch and machine stitch amongst others. Techniques used include appliqué and free machine stitch. Many different materials are incorporated including beads, metal eyelets and washers and a sheet of toilet paper.
Brief Description
Quilt, organdie on canvas backing, 90 applied roundels in different techniques, one further roundel on reverse
Physical Description
Quilt, backing of canvas with strips of organdie on the front which overlap in places to create darker colour effects. The organdie (a fine transparent plain weave cotton) has been secured to the backing with machine-stitched lines creating a quilting effect. Within these strips are attached columns of ten roundels: each is 15 cms in diameter and produced by one of the ninety collaborators on the project.
Dimensions
  • Height: 195cm (approximate)
  • Width: 195cm (approximate)
Production typeUnique
Marks and Inscriptions
On the reverse of the quilt, a roundel by Lara Hailey gives the title 'Sewn Antidote' and another piece of cotton fabric gives the names of the contributors.
Credit line
Gift of Lara Hailey
Production
When the COVID-19 lockdown started, Lara Hailey contacted students past and present to invite them to collaborate in a COVID-19 quilt project. The project was extended onto an Instagram post. Participants were given instructions to produce a small circular textile work responding to their experience of the pandemic. The instructions included guidelines about colour background and suggestions of possible techniques. The quilt incorporates 90 textile roundels, sewn by the students and Instagram respondents. A further roundel made by Lara, with the quilt’s title, ‘Sewn Antidote’, was moved from the front to the back of the quilt to make space for one last piece submitted by a contributor.
Subject depicted
Summary
‘Sewn Antidote’ is a collaborative textile artwork reflecting on the Covid-19 pandemic. On the ‘Sewn Antidote’ Instagram account, Lara states, ‘I am interested in documenting social history through collaborative stitch projects and how the therapeutic benefits of stitching with a shared aim can create wellbeing and connection in these times of isolation.’

The project was born out of a desire to keep people in touch and connected through a communal stitching project. Its overall design and concept are by Lara Hailey, while the 90 roundels are the work of her students plus various individuals who responded to the Instagram post. The roundels incorporate the free expression of the contributors and are diverse in theme, message and technique. Together they build a poignant and comprehensive picture of society’s communal battle with Covid.

There are many expressions of thanks, such as those to charity groups, NHS, postal and key workers. Others deal with sentiments and emotions provoked by isolation and separation. Several illustrate the dramatic change in lifestyle for individuals: ‘The playground is closed’, ‘GARDENING NOT RUGBY’, ‘I LOVE BRIDGE ONLINE’. But many tackle the more critical issues such as the death toll or severe illness; an appliquéd grim reaper is accompanied by the embroidered words, ‘NOT TODAY! PHIL returns home from ICU 21.04.20’. The societal and political climate is also recorded in references to key workers’ pay, homelessness and a comment linking the killing of George Floyd to one of the symptoms of the illness: ‘I can’t Breathe’. Political leaders’ handling of the pandemic is referenced: Boris Johnson is portrayed twice, and Donald Trump’s suggested ingested disinfectant cure is alluded to.

The roundels include decorative machine embroidery, hand embroidery, knotting, knitting and appliqué. Unusual materials such as metal eyelets and a sheet of toilet paper, ‘Unpick … … in case of emergency’, are incorporated. The contributors’ design and sewing expertise ranges from beginner to professional and this variety of execution adds to the impact of the quilt as a product of communal effort.

Overall, ‘Sewn Antidote’, as its name suggests, is an uplifting object which expresses human solidarity and concern. An emblem of homeliness and comfort, a quilt is the perfect vehicle for these expressions of emotion and records of memories, its stitched textile form imparting both emotional and physical reassurance.

Collection
Accession Number
T.106-2021

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record createdApril 23, 2021
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