THE FABRIC PROJECT
When we first started thinking about the world for The Allesley Silas it struck me that fabric and the community should be at the heart of the design for the show. As well as the image of ‘the weaver of Raveloe’ – the alternative title to George Eliot’s novel, there are also so many parallels with Silas’ weaving of fabric and the way in which the story of Silas Marner unfolds.
When Silas’ world unravels and he loses his home and community he retreats to the loom, weaving garments for the people of Raveloe. This community – initially so tight-knit that there seems no space for Silas, soon draws round him when he is faced with tragedy and includes Silas in the fabric of their lives, as he in turn creates a home for Eppie. Silas’ world, initially drab, dark and lonely, by the end of the play becomes a tapestry of colourful characters, joy and acceptance as he finds a true home in Raveloe. It is this development from a dreary place to one of colour and hope that we wanted the community to be a part of creating, coming together to create something beautiful – even - and especially - amidst the difficult past year.
With the key ideas of fabric and community in mind we collaborated with brilliant local painter and textile artist, Cathy Renken, to develop a number of textile projects, where people from the local community in Allesley, Allesley Park, Coundon and across Coventry could participate in creating beautiful fabric artworks to illustrate local landmarks and key places in the play, as well as creating hundreds of fabric flowers for the set. The banners are all made differently and with different skills and creative inputs, including weaving, silk-painting, printing and words from local people. A huge number of people have been involved as part of a range of different community groups; from local schools, libraries, churches and families, to new groups who have come together specifically to make the artworks.
Look out for some familiar local places featured on the banners, some quotes from our local community cast and some that feature over 100 individual prints that have been stitched together by Cathy!