Drawing and Stitching at Aylesham Heritage Centre

Posted on May 16, 2016

Marcia and Rosie led another day of drawing and stitching on 4 February 2015, this time at Aylesham Heritage Centre, where many of Kent’s former miners get together every week. The drawing session in the morning started with a presentation by Marcia of charcoal drawings of mining in South Africa by William Kentridge which were truly inspiring and scene setting. Participants experimented in charcoal and conte crayons to create drawings evocative of World War 1.

During the lunch break, a group of ex-miners shared their stories of what it was like to work in Kent’s mines: hot, sweaty, exhausting, dirty but “it paid for our children to get through school“. They also explained how they communicated underground.

They then had a look at the drawings, helpfully explaining that the flame in the lamps would have been blue not yellow.

In the afternoon, participants referred to their drawings to create bunting which Rosie will be stringing together and which will be available to Aylesham heritage centre to use at their events.

Here is some of the feedback we received:

Drawing workshop:

The best thing about the workshop:

  • Working with charcoal and being shown how to use it
  • To spend a few pleasurable hours drawing under just the right amount of guidance and enjoying the company of everyone in the room in this joint experience.
  • A great sense of unity within the group, and the joy of working towards a common end
  • To be challenged through Marcia’s excellent workshop leadership

The most surprising thing:

  • Chatting to the ex- miners at the Heritage centre and hearing their stories
  • That my drawing “skills” haven’t deteriorated so very much since working creatively on computers for the last almost 20 years (but my handwriting has!). 
  • That i could actually work fairly well…with charcoal – a medium I always avoid! However, I enjoyed it, and will use it again.
  • How I surprise myself with what I come up with

The most interesting thing:

  • The stories from WW1 and how the miners were used to dig the trenches
  • Meeting some of the ex-miners in Aylesham was such an eye-opener – and hearing some of their stories. Particularly that some of the miners who were black listed after the general strike in 1926 came down to Kent to work in the mines – and where “thus” a bunch of some of the most militant miners! 
  • An appreciation and understanding of the nature of the mining community and its comradeship, amply demonstrated by the wonderful individuals who were there to engaged in illuminating conversations with us – such personalities and such humour!
  • That the lantern flame of the miners lamp is blue

Other comments:

  • Brilliant workshop, Marcia is wonderful. 
  • Well structured day, well thought out and clever comparison with mines and using charcoal
  • Congratulations on finding such great practitioners for the workshops – Marcia and Rosie are fantastic!
  • A perfect mix of brief insight into the socio-cultural background of Aylesham Heritage Centre, excellent choice of workshop leaders (their personal manner, skills, professionalism) and well-timed length of session – plus the coherent connection to WWI through the artefacts and archive material chosen. Really well-rounded, put simply!
  • Just an all round great day, and now looking forward to Sandwich
  • Excellent workshop with great people in a fascinating environment with radical ex miners who entertained us with their stories in the break

Stitching workshop:

The best thing about the workshop:

  • Trying different ideas for the bunting
  • Stitching with the machine 

The most surprising thing:

  • CI loved the stories from Aylesham and the ex- miners and finding out about the camaraderie in the village
  • How long it takes to embroider words by hand

The most interesting thing:

  • The contact methods the miners used underground. The conditions they worked on. 
  • How comfortable some people are with stitch and others with drawing

Other comments:

  • Fabulous workshop led by Rosie. Well prepared, and brilliant bunting made for the project. 
  • Rosie is an excellent course leader, very patient and helpful.
  • Tutors create a good relaxed learning environment in which participants are encouraged, and can achieve.
  • having the drawing workshop first was brilliant and unexpected how one could transfer the one to the other and come up with something really interesting
  • Rosie James is a wonderfully pragmatic practitioner under her leadership I had a go and the results were really satisfying. It was a wonderful day with a fun and connected group.