People in the City of Whittlesea are working on a project, entitled the Community Comforter, to create a large fabric quilt made up of a patchwork of hand-stitched and woven squares. ​

By Colin MacGillivray

PEOPLE can make a unique contribution to the social fabric of Whittlesea – literally – with the launch of a community textile art project.

The project, entitled the Community Comforter, will be a large fabric quilt made up of a patchwork of hand-stitched and woven squares donated by the City of Whittlesea community.

The Community Comforter project was launched last month and is open to people of all ages.

City of Whittlesea art and engagement coordinator Mahony Kiely said creating textile art by sewing or weaving could often be therapeutic, and was encouraged for people who felt isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The weaving aspect utilises mindfulness tasks that were recommended by an art therapist, and the sewing aspect invites people to reflect on joyous times in the past when they felt comfortable and secure and safe,” she said.

“Knowing the way the brain works, if we reflect on those things we strengthen the neural pathways around feeling secure and happy and returning to those memories, rather than strengthening the neural pathways around feeling anxious.

“We are trying to encourage people to reflect on happy times when they felt secure and safe and make a piece of art based on that using materials they might find at home or be able to recycle from existing things.”

Ms Kiely said organisers hoped people might enjoy the process of creating a square for the Community Comforter so much that they would go on to stitch together their own quilts or rugs.

She said the project had the potential to unite isolated and elderly members of the community.

“People are now finding ways to be connected and look after their mental health,” she said.

“We’re thinking this might be good for older people who might be living alone or have plenty of spare time on their hands.

“I’ve had enquiries from activity managers at aged care homes.”

Ms Kiely said the ultimate aim of the project was to showcase Whittlesea’s diversity and creativity.

“It was about trying to get people to do something simple that might be good for their mental health and then inviting them to send that in,” she said.

“Ideally at the end we’ll see that idea of community reflected.

“Everyone’s an individual and they only send in one piece, but at the end when it all comes together it’s a metaphor for community.

“The message is that we’re not alone, no matter how alone we feel.”

People can find more information on the Community Comforter project, including details on how to submit a square, by visiting www.whittlesea.vic.gov.au/media/5744/community-comforter-flyer.pdf or emailing connectingcommunity@whittlesea.vic.gov.au.

Submissions must be made by October 1.

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