Stitch a Poem: Manchester Met celebrates World Mental Health Day with stitching and poetry workshop in collaboration with Manchester Poetry Library
To mark this year’s World Mental Health Day, Manchester Met hosted a creative hand stitching event to raise awareness for positive change.
The ‘Stitch a Poem’ workshop invited participants to stitch a line of their favourite poem or song lyric, and was hosted by textiles artist and lecturer Dr Lynn Setterington in collaboration with the Manchester Poetry Library.
Setterington, who teaches on Manchester Met’s Textiles in Practice course, completed her PhD at UCA Farnham. Her work focuses on hidden values and points of tension in shared embroidery practice.
Setterington continues to explore contemporary societal issues, alongside the role of stitching in commemorating individuals and communities, and can often be found hosting stitching workshops.
During the ‘Stitch a Poem’ workshop, attendees were encouraged to select a poem from the Manchester Poetry Library and embroider it onto upcycled fabric napkins, nurturing a creative connection between poetry and stitching.
The session offered attendees a valuable opportunity to acquire a new skill, engage in conversations about stitching and poetry, and share laughter.
Manchester Poetry Library’s project manager Dr Martin Kratz, highlighted the significance of including poetry on World Mental Health Day, noting that both textiles and poetry are crafts that bring people together to discuss mental health in an empathetic and understanding manner.
Setterington also emphasised the importance of collaboration and community in her own work: “I never work alone; I am always part of a team and community. Often, events like this start small but have the potential to grow into something positive.”
Setterington also shared her enjoyment for “demonstrating what stitch can be, and having different people to work with makes the stitching experience varied and interesting”.
One workshop attendee, Louise, had stumbled upon a gardening notebook at home while searching for a poetry book. Instead of using a poem, she decided to incorporate a sentence from the found notebook, which had once been the possession of a dear friend who passed away at a young age.
Louise said: “Her name was Helen; she was a special person who never did things by the book. I was given this notebook that she kept about her gardening tasks by her mum after she died.
“I was very touched. Using her words has been a brilliant way to remember the good things that made her so unique.”
Setterington described her work as “tactile social history,” using textiles as a means of preserving the memories of people through stitching.
As part of her research, she has engaged with various communities in the UK, including the local Burnage Academy for Boys for a project called ‘Threads of Identity.’
This project challenged stereotypes surrounding embroidery practice and male identity within underrepresented communities. Working with male students at the school, each boy was tasked with embroidering signatures collected from people who held significance in their lives. This initiative was also created to acknowledge the 30th anniversary of the tragic death of Ahmed Iqbal Ullah, a former student and victim of a racially motivated crime in the 1980s.
This sentiment was shared with the Stitch a Poem workshop participants, who took part in a discussion about the ways both stitching and other creative expressions have played vital roles in documenting and preserving cultural narratives.
To learn more about Dr Lynn Setterington’s work and exhibitions, visit lynnsetterington.co.uk and follow @lynnsetterington on Instagram.
For support and advice on mental health, visit mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/get-help