Presenting the textile works and processes of artists, patients and staff from the Occupational Therapy department at the Bethlem Royal Hospital, The Fabric of Being considers the social and therapeutic value of individual and collective textile making.
“Fabric is defined as cloth, or the basic framework of something. An example of fabric is cotton. Another example is family; our family is the fabric of life.”- A dictionary definition of fabric
The textiles studio of the Occupational Therapy department at Bethlem Royal Hospital is a unique space that provides regular supported opportunities for patients to make, mend, sew and knit together. Once set-up with materials and a project, the repetitive act of sewing or knitting can allow space for conversation; facilitating a rhythm of communication between makers around the table.
Terence Wilde, Technical Instructor in the Occupational Therapy department’s textiles and art studios at Bethlem Royal Hospital who curated this exhibition says:
“I’m interested in the symbolic meaning of unpicking, taking things apart to reveal the raw thing underneath; the true nature of them. Mending things by taking them apart and exposing the structure to understand them. Unpicking, sewing and mending are similar in process to those found in therapy.”
The Fabric of Being features a wide range of textile works that shows the diverse interests and skills of the makers involved, from paper and fabric lanterns to hanging works, felt work, stitching, weaving and binding. Some works use personal and family sourced fabrics imbued with rich social histories; their personal narratives are woven through and into fabric works.
The Occupational Therapy programme at Bethlem Royal Hospital offers a wide choice of creative and practical activities which give people recovering from mental health issues the opportunity to rekindle old skills, learn from new experiences and build their confidence on their path to recovery. The department has extensive purpose built studios and workshops and the activities available include Art, Pottery, Woodwork, Textiles, Gardening, Jewellery Making, Music, Dance and Drama.