Stitch as a compassionate action: The War Widows Quilt, A collaborative response

Claire Barber, Lois Blackburn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The value of the arts to both physical and mental health has been recognised in recent years, exemplified by the establishment of Arts for Health at Manchester metropolitan University. Stitch naturally lends itself to collaborative practice, and a considerable body of research demonstrates the value of stitch and making within health.

arthur+martha (the artist and writer duo Lois Blackburn and Philip Davenport) is an experimental arts organisation based in the UK. It aims to help people find their creative voice, building confidence, self-esteem and self-worth, through art and writing. arthur+martha work with marginalised groups including those living with dementia, homeless people and older people. arthur+martha help bring attention to, and promote understanding of, the lives and art of people who are sometimes lost in the corners.

The War Widows' Quilt was made in collaboration with over 90 war widows, in partnership with the War Widows' Association of Great Britain. It is part of the War Widows Stories project, led by Dr Nadine Muller (Liverpool John Moores University). War Widows from across the UK came together via group workshops, mail art and home visits to make quilt and poems. The first public showing of the quilt was at the Queen's House, Royal Museums Greenwich. It will tour around the UK in 2020-21.

I interviewed Lois Blackburn about the War Widows' Quilt to gain an insight into arthur+martha's collaborative working practices.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInsights
EditorsJune Hill, Melanie Miller
Place of PublicationGreat Britain
PublisherThe Textile Study Group
Number of pages6
ISBN (Print)9781916346802, 1916346804
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2020


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