Members of the Joyce's Quilt community engagement project in front of the finished quiltOver the past seven months women from different communities across Plymouth have been working together to celebrate and remember their fellow females using traditional textile crafts to create ‘Joyce’s Quilt’.

Joyce Vincent died alone in her flat in north London and lay unmissed by anyone for more than two years while her television set blared and post mounted up. Her body was eventually discovered in her tiny studio flat in Wood Green. A bag of shopping lay by her side while Christmas presents lay under the tree.

After seeing a documentary about Joyce called ‘Dreams of a Life’ by Carol Morley, Hayley Kemp who works for Plymouth Community Homes was inspired to create a project that would address this kind of social isolation.

Hayley said: “Joyce’s story got me thinking ‘where was the community’? People don’t have those chats over the garden fence anymore and often say ‘I keep myself, to myself’. How isolated have we become? I wanted to do something that would symbolise Joyce and bring women across Plymouth together, each of whom could contribute a patch to a quilt that tells their own story.”

Joyce's Quilt on display at the launch event on 8 March 2017‘Joyce’s Quilt’ is a Vital Sparks project funded by the Plymouth History Centre and supported by Plymouth Community Homes, Routeways and artist Karen Evans from The Conscious Sisters. The project has travelled around the city to many different communities and has seen a wide range of women who wouldn’t normally meet up, get together to sew and share stories.

The finished quilt is 2.5 meters high by 2.9 meters long and contains 56 individually decorated squares. It’s edged with white, green and purple as a nod to the suffrage movement. Each square is dedicated it to a woman that means something to its maker, from Maya Angelou, to Barbara Hepworth, to community nurses, to family members. In the centre and heart of the quilt there is a square dedicated to Joyce.

The quilt was unveiled on International Women’s Day, Wednesday 8 March 2017 at the HQ building, Union Street – the site of the former Jaeger factory.

L-R: Hayley Kemp and Judith Robinson at the launch of Joyce's QuiltJudith Robinson, Arts and Cultural Development Manager, Plymouth City Council said: “We’re delighted to support a project which has engaged so many different women across the city and to see it launched at such a significant venue where many women would have worked on sewing in days gone by.”

Following the launch the quilt will tour to some of the locations around the city where it was created. It will eventually be housed in the History Centre after it opens in 2020.

Ends

For more information about Joyce’s Quilt contact Hayley Kemp on Hayley.Kemp@plymouthcommunityhomes.co.uk