This summer, two artists will travel to locations in the UK and approach passers-by with the proposition of cutting a piece of fabric from the clothes they are wearing.

Two Itinerant Quilters is a new project created by artists Joanna Wright and Lenka Clayton, who, over the suumer, will set up temporary tailor shops and invite passers-by to allow them to take their scissors to a piece of the clothing they are wearing that day.

Two Itinerant Quilters inserting pieces of fabric into a denim jacket
Two Itinerant Quilters at work

The two will cut a diamond-shaped piece of fabric from the person’s clothing, then repair it by hand, using a contrasting piece of fabric sewn in place. The collected diamonds will be sewn together to create a quilt made of the clothes of all sorts of people from all sorts of places, which will grow as the project tours the world. As well as donating a piece of fabric, each participant contributes a story, remark or comment linked to the clothing, so the collection of stories grows online as the physical quilt expands.

Two Itinerant Quilters depicts a piece of fabric made up of different diamonds of contrasting fabric
Two Itinerant Quilters – detailed pattern unsewn

The aim is to connect people via their stories and garments, but also to create the possibility of people, sporting clothes with a very visible and distinctive contrasting patch, bumping into each other on the street. So far 300 passers-by have contributed pieces of their clothing to the quilt. You can see it and read the associated stories here.

‘I usually wear it on lounge days at home with my 4 dogs. It probably smells like them. Sorry!’

The project takes its inspiration from the long-lost profession of the 18th century travelling quilters who would stay with families in order to create patchwork quilts from old clothing, rags and sacks found at each home.

Lenka and Joanna will be in residence at Ceredigion Museum in Wales on 4 and 5 August and Helson Museum in Cornwall on 11 and 12 August.

Two Itinerant Quilters depicts a contrasting piece of fabric on a womman's shirt
Two Itinerant Quilters handywork

‘There is a river race in Missouri for kayaks and canoes called the Missouri River 340. The race starts in Kansas City and ends in St. Charles, Missouri. You paddle 340 miles across the state on the Missouri River. It takes about 2 ½ days, for some it takes longer. The shirt I brought is the shirt worn by the first all women’s voyageur canoe team ‘Ladies and Clark’. I was a member of that team. We placed 26th out of 340 vessels. Our age range was 62 yrs old…to 30 years old… One team member found out that she was pregnant the week before the race. She kept her commitment to our team and finished the race strong. The river adventure with its beauty and perils changed our lives and reminded us that women are strong competitors, and caring competitors, as we looked after each other along our journey.’

Two Itinerant Quilters depicts a contrasting piece of fabric on a womman's shirt
Two Itinerant Quilters handywork

About this artist

Lenka Clayton

Lenka Clayton is an artist and founder of An Artist Residency in Motherhood. Her interdisciplinary work considers, exaggerates, and alters the accepted rules of everyday life, extending the familiar into the realms of the poetic and absurd. In previous works she has hand-numbered 7,000 stones; searched for all 613 people mentioned in a single edition of a German newspaper; filmed one person of each age from 1 to 100, and reconstituted a lost museum from a sketch on the back of an envelope. She and writer Michael Crowe are currently in the middle of writing a unique, personal letter to every household in the world. Clayton’s previous work has been widely exhibited including at FRAC Le Plateau in Paris, Kunstmuseum Linz in Austria, Kunsthalle St. Gallen in Switzerland, the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Anthology Film Archives and MoMA in New York City, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas, the Tehran International Documentary Festival, and on BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4 Television in the UK. Her work has also appeared in Frieze, Creative Nonfiction, Esquire Russia, The Daily Telegraph, The New Yorker blog, The New York Times, and in the publication “Typewriter Art” amongst others.

Joanna Wright

Joanna is a Welsh artist and documentary maker. She has made films about vanishing telephone phone boxes, a town infested by a plague of flies, and Britain’s oldest environmentalists. She holds an MA in Documentary Direction from the National Film and Television School UK and a BA in Fine Art from Camberwell College, UAL. She is a founder member of Documentary Wales, an organisation that supports creative documentary in Wales. Her work has been screened internationally, including at the Institute for Contemporary Art, London, The British Film Institute, British Council, Channel 4, the United Nations, and projected on the side of a medieval castle in Wales. Joanna is currently working on her first feature documentary, supported by BFI, Ffilm Cymru Wales and the Arts Council. Joanna lives and works in Bangor, north Wales, UK