Hi! I’m Raggedy Annie.  Although a ‘scouser’ by birth I have spent most of my life in Calderdale where I’ve had a ‘dual career’ working both as a qualified nurse and as a textile artist and running textile related courses. Until recently, I regularly contributed to this publication and have come out of retirement to tell you all about the amazing Textile Response to the We All Have a Story to Tell project that I led for the Calderdale Libraries, which was installed within a beautiful glass cabinet late last month.

Halifax Central Library Textile exhibit

The project to create the work has been funded by Arts Council England for Calderdale Libraries. The overall project is entitled ‘We All Have a Story to Tell’ and comprises of four elements – with written word, video and music being the other contributors. The Textile Response focusses on Halifax and comprises of three large banners plus a number of smaller pieces of work. It has been designed and worked by a group called the ‘Piecemakers’, of which I am a member and the Textile Artist lead.

The ‘Piecemakers’, sixteen women and one man, have worked for the past four years to create this piece. We looked at the geography, history, industry, architecture, culture and people of Halifax.

Notable buildings in Halifax

One side of each banner features many of the important buildings of Halifax including the Piece Hall, Shibden Hall, Dean Clough and the Halifax Building Society. The buildings have been worked in a variety of textile techniques including fabric applique, transferring photographs to fabric, and hand and machine embroidery. We also used techniques such as lino-print to create designs which we then embellished with stitch. Along the bottom of each hanging we used a technique known as dry-point etching to print images of three gates of the Piece Hall, onto which Goldwork embroidery was worked. The colonnades which flank the gates are also worked in Goldwork and surface embroidery. The backdrop to the buildings shows the local landscape with additional photographic images, plus the skyline, complete with a Stumpwork representation of The Beacon.

Notable Haligonians

The reverse sides of the banners feature some ‘notable Haligonians’, famous and infamous people of Halifax. Using a technique called Crazy Patchwork, we made panels relating to a number of these people including Violet Mackintosh and Percy Shaw. A horizontal banner stretches across the front of our work with the word HALIFAX in Goldwork over iconic images the town. The base of the display case has a flock of needle felted sheep grazing on a rag rug meadow! One of the exhibits may puzzle viewers – a knitted Dalek! This represents Mark Wright of Halifax who writes for Dr Who. There is also a tin of Quality Street which spills out into the display; each chocolate exquisitely recreated in tiny stitched beads.

Meet the Piecemakers

To complete the display, we all had great fun making ‘mini-me’s’! These are little models of ourselves, and some more of ‘Halifax folk’, dressed in tiny hand-stitched clothes. They sit on cotton reels as another reference to the rich textile history of this town. Do go and have a look if you get chance. Postcards are also available of some of the pieces.

Love from Annie

Raggedy Annie runs course in all the techniques used in this project, plus many more, from her studio at Croft Myl, Halifax. For more information visit www.RaggedyAnnie.co.uk, or www.facebook.com/annie.lancaster.948. Courses can be arranged to suit you, for groups of between 2–12 people.