The italicised quotes are from this pre-conference blog post by Frances Bell at https://femedtech.net/published/the-unfinished-story-of-the-femedtech-quilt-assemblage/
At #OER23 in Inverness, Frances Bell and Lou Mycroft lead us in some posthuman thinking, on subjects including “The Good Scissors” (oh my heart, and oh panic where is my good scissors ✂️) and the main ideas “of FemEdTech, of a quilt” and “and what are those? And who tells their stories? And how? And who will finish these stories?”. We were invited and encouraged to “Read on, and contribute!”.
I’ve been thinking about it since. I first met the #FemEdTechQuilt project around the time I saw the story of BadassCrossStitch and Rita’s Quilt emerge on Instagram. If you don’t know that story, take a quick detour now. I had also taken custody of my late mother’s sewing machine, and had temporary custody of an electronic embroidery machine thanks to @richardmillwood. So when Frances did an open call for contributions to the FemEdTech quilt, I took the opportunity to break from studying a bit and do some stitching. I sent two pieces away – the one I planned with intent, an homage to my friend Cynthia Solomon, in which I used the lovely circular red swatch I found in situ on the footplate of my mother’s machine when I opened it; the other a smaller impromptu piece reflecting a Turtlestitch workshop at Nano Nagle place in Cork, which included young people from ‘direct provision’*. My delight in seeing both pieces become part of the quilt was double when I realised that Frances had added Angela, my mother’s name, to the square which used her red swatch ❣️
Meeting with the quilt, and with Frances, was delayed from 2020 ‘til 2023, which made it all the more emotional. In the meantime we learned more about each other’s stories, and ‘meet’ more of the contributors thru the digital repository of the stories woven into their contributions.
And who will finish these stories?, we were asked to consider … and I have been thinking this …
Finally meeting the #femedtech quilt (and she whose skills, strength, and support had literally held the project together in rocky times) before #OER23, and seeing the response to it during the conference, was a very emotional moment for me, both visceral and tactile. It felt much more like a beginning than a middle or end of a story, like a dark time of isolation could be put to rest. The stories of and in any crowdsourced quilt, as long as it lives in the open and is passed from one generation to the next, never really end. It carries the stories on and in the fabric, in the piecing and the stitching, the display and use of the final work. It is art and it is craft and it is literature. So rather than wonder who will finish the stories in this quilt, gather those who have the skills and the will to continue them, curate them, conserve them as never-ending stories. Keep gathering, keep assembling.* direct provision is a term given to refugee accommodation in Ireland
This work by @magsamond is licensed under a Creative Commons CC-BY Attribution 4.0 International License.