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LCF celebrates collaboration with Hackney Children’s Centre at Sutton House

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Published date 26 July 2017

Earlier this month LCF and the mothers and children from Morningside Children’s Centre came together at the Tudor home Sutton House in Hackney, to celebrate the making of coats for their children.

Photography: Eva Clifford (LCC)

Throughout the afternoon, a fashion show took place led by the women and the Centre’s Marie Kerrigan, LCF’s Special Projects Manager Lauren McKirdy, Carole Morrison in Widening Participation and Claire Swift, Director of Social Responsibility at LCF.

PROTOTYPE is a collaborative project with LCF and Morningside Children’s Centre, Hackney. Over the course of 14 weeks, a group of 12 women from the centre attended workshops at LCF’s site at Mare Street, to create coats for their children. Over the weeks, the mothers have undertaken a remarkable amount; developing toiles, fitting, designing, pattern cutting and constructing their garments.

Photography: Eva Clifford (LCC)

The workshops, led by LCF tutor Claudette Bonnick-Davis, and assistant tutors Laura Salisbury and Tapiwa Dingwiza, have taught the women about specialist pocket, collar, hood and sleeve construction techniques, with their final pieces demonstrating a wide range of skills that would usually be seen at undergraduate level.

LCF’s Special Projects Manager Lauren McKirdy who heads up the initiative said: “The dedication of the whole team involved in Prototype has been inspiring, with every session being well attended and the mums organizing extra time outside of the workshops to help one another with coat construction. Friendships have formed in the group, resulting in ambitious plans from the women to establish a sewing co-operative at Morningside.”

The fashion show was attended by families and included representatives from Hackney Council, Poplar HARCA, Community Links, Family Action and V&A Museum of Childhood, some of whom are project partners for the wider initiative; 1000 Coats.

1000 Coats is a project conceived by artist Whitney McVeigh, Fellow in Creative Practice at LCF and will take place in 2018. The aim of it is to train 100 women from the boroughs of Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets, in the sewing skills required to make 1000 coats for children in poverty living across London. The community workshops and an exhibition of the coat patterns will take place at LCF’s new fashion space in Poplar, before the coats are gifted back into society for those in need.

Whitney McVeigh says:

The energy of the women at Sutton House was inspiring and marks the beginning of the project. Working together can empower, improve confidence and enhance the lives of others. In 1000 Coats, communities will come together to create something real and tangible. As each coat is gifted, it makes the symbolic statement of a collective future.

As part of the project the women visited the V&A Museum of Childhood where they were shown by curator, Katy Canales, a range of children’s coats spanning 300 years from the archive, including a 1920’s mourning coat for a little girl that was made by her mother. The women were inspired to learn some of the history of children’s wear and understand the way that construction methods have developed over time. LCF is in conversation with the Museum about the women furthering their skills and knowledge by participating in their Christmas Fair.

One of the participants on the course said:

Before this project I didn’t know what I was doing. I have five children and I felt like I had lost my own identity. This course has changed my life and I know I want to pursue these skills much further, for myself and my whole family.