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Weaving Narratives 2020

In 2016 Bedfordshire Archives ran Weaving Narratives in which both amateur and professional textile artists created pieces of work inspired by our archives. This was so successful that in 2020 Bedfordshire Archives will be re-visiting this community art project. Participants will be given special access to our collections at a short series of workshops to inspire them to create their own pieces.

All workshops are free to attend and will run from 10am to 12pm. The project is open to all, but places at the workshops are limited and will be first come, first served. We recommend that everyone attend the introduction session to meet each other and become familiar with the Archives, but you do not need to attend the sessions in order to participate.

The workshops will be held on:

Saturday 7 March 2020 – An introduction to the archives with a display of material for inspiration and to spark the imagination

Saturday 4 April 2020 - An opportunity to pursue your own research with guidance from staff

Saturday 13 June 2020 - A chance for participants to discuss their work and share their progress

Autumn - Touring exhibition of the completed works across the county. Last time work was exhibited at: Borough Hall, Luton Central Library, Flitwick Library, Bedford Central Library and Bedford Hospital. We hope to be able to arrange similar venues for 2020.

Participants need to provide their own craft materials, but as long as there is a link to something we hold in the archives any form of textile art is acceptable. Mixed media, incorporating textiles, is ok too. However, please keep in mind that space may be limited when it comes to the exhibitions held in the autumn.

If you or someone you know would be interested in taking part, please email us at or call us on 01234 228833 to register your interest. Keep checking this webpage for updates as the project progresses. 

Inspiration from some of our 2016 participants

Fran Wortley
was inspired by photographs of criminals in the Bedford Gaol Register to find out more about the people behind the faces and the crimes they had committed. She said: 

"Weaving Narratives was a fantastic opportunity to step back in time and explore Bedfordshire's fascinating history." 

Gaol Register

 "My work tells a story of time. Of time spent behind bars. Of a time when some crimes seem trivial and punishments harsh. While I stiched I felt connected to these people; people found guilty of crimes, but maybe also guilty of poverty, hunger, homelessness and poor education, and living in fear of the workhouse."


Linda Swain and Roma Booth met at the first Weaving Narratives meeting and discovered they were both lacemakers with an interest in other crafts. After looking at some of the items on display here at Bedfordshire Archives they were inspired by images in old catalogues for Meltis Sweets. 

Meltis Documents

"We chose an item, a box of sweets, which was illustrated in a catalogue from 1936 and discussed how we could interpret the image to create a 3D piece of work." 

Meltis Sweets


"We felt that we wanted to focus on pillow lace.This we used to create the corner motif and lettering on the box lid and the edgings on the inside. On reflection, we decided that crochet would be a better option for creating the sweets. We enhanced these with orange glitter. It was all brought together in a hand-made, fabric covered box."


Photograph courtesy of Bedford Camera Club