Join the Garment Train!
Hello and welcome to my first blog post for 2016.
The year has started with terrific energy thanks to the launch of the latest piece of The Stitch Lives of London.
‘Life Restored’ latest garment donated by Jonny Benjamin to my major on-going project The Stitch Lives of London, ‘A modern day Bayeux Tapestry’
â€œMy faith in life, thanks to Mike, is restoredâ€- Jonny Benjamin. This story is about hope and a life restored; it is a contemporary London tale.
Jonny Benjamin has donated the white t-shirt he was wearing on the 14th January 2008 as he was about to commit suicide. He describes his thoughts and feelings in his poem From the Edge of Waterloo Bridge hand written in his own diaries. I have hand stitched the whole poem by hand onto the t-shirt. I believe the handwriting of an individual is like their voice — when I stitch it onto a garment they have worn their story comes to life.
On that fateful morning, one Londoner stopped and talked Jonny down from the bridge. Jonny called him ‘Mike’ and six years after the event a London wide campaign was launched to reunite them. The #findmike campaign went viral and they eventually met back on the bridge. The stranger’s name was Neil.
The front of the garment has been saturated in black ink and indigo — a reference in his diaries to his ‘indigo mood’. We see what he sees as he stands on the edge of the bridge — London’s iconic cityscape printed in contrasting white against an inky backdrop. For me, Neil represents humanity. He was the stranger who stopped and said ‘We could go for a coffee…talk it over? Whatever it is, it isn’t worth your life’.
The back of the t-shirt is lighter and a witty reminder of Neil’s statement:
â€œIt’s weird because it’s like we are like old friends, we’re very similar. I’m Batman and he’s Robin. Maybe we were always meant to be in each other’s lives!â€
On seeing the piece Jonny said;
I was delighted when Rosalind asked me to a part of the project. Having seen her previous work I was very excited to see what she would create with the poem and item of clothing I gave her. Seeing the finished piece was wonderful. Rosalind has turned what was extremely bleak and dark into something so colourful and full of life. I hope it inspires others who see it that it is possible to overcome and transform adversity in life.
The response to the piece has been overwhelmingly positive and the London press have got behind the project.
Join the garment train!
I have picked up my brush and ink to try to visualize this long ‘tapestry’ of garments — so far, there are eight completed; but since the River Thames is 215 miles in length the hunt is on for the rest! If you think you have a garment or a story worth including in The Stitch Lives of London please contact me.
Many thanks to Marte Lundby Rekaa for my images.