This last lockdown was the hardest yet. Although we often spend winters cosied up in our homes, we at least have the choice to meet in cafes, pubs and community centres to satisfy our social needs. Some of us had really started to struggle. Our Christmases had been pared back to the minimum and a sense of the never-ending nature of the pandemic was starting to pervade our pre-Christmas positivity. The weather made it less easy to meet up outside and our motivation to create was hampered by our desire to rest and wrestle with the uncertainty present at the start of the year. In the absence of being able to make plans, we floundered collectively into a new year desperately looking for signs of spring – we needed some light.

Encouraged by the response to the community quilt project I felt that another collective project might help to motivate us towards a common goal. With just the beginnings of an idea I began to introduce a theme for each of the winter months and post images in the hope that they would inspire the group. Sorting through the last of the Middle Street resources led me to put together craft packs that fit in with our three themes – REST/REFLECT, NURTURE and GROW. Keeping the theme loose and the medium open made this project more inclusive then the quilt might have done, not everyone likes to sew right?! I was delighted when the first postcards started to arrive through the letterbox, a variety of ideas and techniques in each exciting delivery!

What I loved about this project, as well as the online conversations it created, was the re-connection that occurred with people past and present. There were submissions from people that I have known since childhood and also those I have only ever ‘met’ online since the start of the year. The crossing over of connections has been wonderful and how people have appreciated each other’s work and encouraged creativity has been heartwarming. From pencil sketches to fabric panels adorned with sequins the variations were incredible. Like my contribution, mentioned in the last blog post, many a response to the current situation – an expression of how to manage through periods of anxiety and stress.

As the collection grew week by week I enjoyed seeing my finished postcard slotted in beside the others. As you would expect, nature features heavily. A constant reminder of time passing, the seasons provide us with the change we need to reassure us that progress is still happening. Spring opened out into summer and the light came flooding back in. Gradually restrictions on our daily lives began to ease and our freedoms returned. Tentatively, we have been getting back out into the community, perhaps with renewed caution – after all we have been here before haven’t we? This project has reminded me though, that we can remain united as long as we have a common goal.

Our community is far-reaching and has firm foundations. This project helped me to focus my creative energy at a time when I felt most like I was on the edge, the unsettling events of the past year behind and a deep ravine of unease stretching before me. Nevertheless, there is always light if you look for it and I could often find this in the amazing resilience of others. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved collectively and hope that we can continue to inspire and empower each other for years to come.

DU