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Detail from Salvage:Amy Shelton

In parallel with Clod Ensemble’s Swing Night and Doodlebug Projects marking the 60th Anniversary of the end of WWII, artist Amy Shelton led a series of workshops in button and bunting making with a group of senior citizens and school children in Islington.

Amy investigated the social effects of enforced rationing during WW2 with senior citizens who shared their personal memories and experiences of the Make Do and Mend campaign with her. The stories and images that emerged reflected the necessary human inventiveness, skill and resourcefulness that those people exercised for the greater good: their need to tread lightly, with as little waste as possible. These themes clearly have resonances with the way we live today in the face of today’s environmental crisis.

The primary school children involved with the project also shared their experiences and understanding of re-cycling. After a summer where London school children had directly felt the effects of uncertainty with the London bombings, there were many stark and complex comparisons between the memories of the elders in wartime London and those of the children.



Amy then pieced together a ‘map’ of stories and translated them into a ‘clay quilt’.
The resulting piece Salvage is a gesture of respect - a touchstone of experience that reflects and considers the small and quiet traces of the individual life lived, as well as looking outwards and asking how we might live our lives today with some sense of value intact.

Salvage is a large panel constructed out of very thin fragments of clay. They are sewn together combining patchwork and quilting techniques, the surfaces of each individual piece perhaps reminiscent of landscapes and geological formations.

Amy plays with scale and ambiguity of the surface of the panels in an attempt to reflect the complexity of stories and experiences expressed by the many voices, which are embedded in the piece. The memories of a pilot (the piece includes a hat badge from a WWII pilot) who talked about looking down across rural England from his plane describing the patchwork of fields below, as well as the skill and dexterity still clearly visible within the hands of the women who sewed yards and yards of bunting for Swing Night at the Battersea Town Hall are equally and quietly acknowledged in this piece.

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Duncombe Primary, St John the Evagelist Primary, Peel Centre, Sotheby Mews Day Centre, Claremont Project and Crafts Council

Supported by

The Cripplegate Foundation