A soundscape for Stitch Away The Stigma

Of all the work I did last year, this is one of the projects I am most proud of.

I had heard of the project Stitch Away The Stigma through Arts Together, and also because I know Natalie who works as a textile artist at Opera North.  So I knew what an incredible project it was, helping people to cope with the addiction of a loved one through stitching a statement on a square of silk. So I asked Natalie if she’d like me to create a soundscape for the upcoming exhibition at Sunny Bank Mills in November 2022.  She was delighted, and after some discussion, we came up with the idea of asking anyone who had been involved to record their story and send it in, and I could weave those into the soundscape.

Under each story, I layered atmospheric tones and textures – I’m a member of the sample library Noiiz and they have loads of amazing sounds to choose from.  I varied the combination of sounds, and changed the pitch so there was variation throughout.  But between each story, two chords repeat, giving a moment of repose or reflection. They sound organ-like and a bit churchy, and the other textures stop – it’s as if the noise in people’s heads has quietened for a moment.  Then at the end, I built up the same chords using layers of violin.  And then gradually it changes from the minor to the major chord, and the lower notes fade out leaving two high violin notes at the end, set against the timeless sound of waves crashing on a shore.  I wanted it to end in a positive place, much like the final story – it is hard, but you can put boundaries in place, and you can look after yourself.

We knew it was powerful as a standalone piece, but when you heard it whilst walking around the quilt of the beautiful and delicately stitched squares with their moving words, it became a completely immersive experience.  People on the opening night came and thanked me, most of them people who had been involved in the project and therefore affected by a loved ones addiction.

I felt so honoured to have helped tell their stories, and I know that projects like these help people know that they’re not alone, that there are others going through the same thing, and that there is help out there.

If you want to find out more, go to the Recovery Wellness Collective website for help and resources.