Piece Makers: Soldiers Sewing. Susan Stockwell in Collaboration Veteran Soldiers & NAM
Assisted by museum curators, Susan and the participants drew inspiration from the Museum's Collection and their own stories and experiences. The project brought Susan together with soldiers from two UK recovery centres: Stoll, based in Fulham and Tedworth House in the garrison town of Tidworth, Wiltshire. Through a series of art workshops in 2013, they explored issues around Army rehabilitation and life after service. The participants used drawing, sewing and quilting to unlock memories and accounts of soldiering and recovery. This process culminated in the final commissioned work called 'Peace Maker' (2014). In 'Peace Maker' Stockwell used discarded Army blankets to create a patchwork quilt resonant with the fragmentary nature of the recovery process. 'Peace Maker' reflects the profound challenges associated with duty, solidarity, loss and pride. Central to 'Peace Maker' is the work of artist and veteran, Michael Crossan. His poignant screen print captures the essence of soldiers in war and acts as a focal point in the centre of the quilt. It is surrounded by dark grey and white swatches, representing a chess board and the game of war. Many of the swatches are hand embroidered by Susan with quotes from the soldiers who took part in the workshops, as well as other relevant quotes, poems and words. The reverse side of the work is an evocative silk flag in Army colours, simply containing the word Peace. This was Susan's personal contribution. It is a flag for peace, justice, equality and humanity. The project attempts to represent real issues facing soldiers and veterans in and out of service today. 'Peace Maker' and photographs documenting the project 'Piece Makers' was show at the National Army Museum 2014 and then toured the UK in the exhibition 'Piece Makers' (2014 - 2016) before being accessioned into the National Army Museums collection (2016). Images below are from the workshops at Tedworth House and Stoll Veteran's Support, related objects from the museums collection and making the work, 'Peace Maker' in Susan's studio.