Artists everywhere were invited to make and donate a panel, set to a template, on the understanding that it would be stitched together with others for exhibition. The act of stitching has proven mental health benefits, and it was decided that any funds raised by it after basic expenses are met, would go to the mental health charity, MIND.
Now complete, The Covid Chronicle measures 36 x 1 metres, and is comprised of 140 panels each measuring 50cm2, with an additional metre square title page by Lesley Fudge. The panels submitted from around the world were curated for colour and style and made into metre square units for ease of making and hanging.
Whilst it is hoped a permanent home may eventually be found for The Covid Chronicle to remain in its entirety, we recognise this may not happen, so the final resting place for it is currently in the balance: either a collector or museum will be found to exhibit it, or archive it as a historic document for display later, or the individual metre squares (blocks of 4) will be auctioned in aid of the mental health charity, MIND.
The panels have been catalogued so visitors can register their interest in bidding for any particular square by emailing : email@example.com, stating which panel reference number they might be interested in buying. This commits you to nothing, it simply means you will be notified when the work goes to auction. However, if you wish to make an initial bid by email, that is fine as well. Please note the panels will be offered for sale as metre squares, and will not be dismantled into individual pieces of work. If The Covid Chronicle does go to auction, those who have registered will be notified of the auction date and subsequent outcome.
If anyone would like to support the project's continuation and/or MIND, there is a Crowdfunding page where you can help. Given its reception to date, this important piece of art history needs to be seen by as many people as possible.
"The Covid Chronicle is a stitched textile of one hundred and forty parts. It is the result of a masterpiece of vision by artist Wendy Bliss. To have recognised that this epidemic was worthy of recording by seeking an international response through interpretation of thoughts was unique in itself, but to have collated and organised the resulting testaments with needle and thread is a triumph. The work clearly demonstrates mental creativity and agility from all those who have so skillfully stitched their memories transposing them into a moving and unique work of art." Diana Springall, Art Collector, Author and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Broderers.
This project has generated so much enthusiasm and support that if I were to list all the names I'd never stop - the list just keeps growing. But I can make a solid start by thanking my husband Vaughan, who, when my own artistic mojo was in lockdown in February 2021, helped me brainstorm ideas as to how I might usefully create something out of something so disruptive and destructive. I'd like to thank Maxwell Flood and Liam Murphy for their early securing of the name on social media in readiness for this website, and Jessica Flood-Murphy and Matilda Fox for their help navigating behind the scenes of Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/the_covid_chronicle/) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/thecovidchronicle).
Without the engagement of the amazing artists represented here, there would be no Covid Chronicle, so my heartfelt gratitude and thanks go to all those who embraced this project with their time, talents and trust, to craft and donate their personal stories so beautifully shared in images and text. Particular mention and thanks must go to Lesley Fudge and Jo Butler for making stunning title panels for The Covid Chronicle, and to Michelle Gilder for organising 15 makers in Iran. I would like to thank you all for the friendly chatter and ongoing support behind the scenes.
Without my 'Dream Seam Team' who helped me stitch together and line the panels, I may have struggled to turn around the assembly of 140 panels into lined metre-blocks in time for exhibition: notably Elizabeth Reid, Kristin Ursell and Diane Boiling, along with Patricia Fraser, Jane Thomson, Lucy Tubbs, Deb Farmelo, Jan Hopkins, Jenny Jeffris, Jenny Myers and Manoela Grigorova; also Nick Bolt, Maxine Pringle, Diane Boiling and Debbie Stewart for their help and advice on hanging systems for textiles.
My big thanks go to brand consultant Maxwell Flood at Grotesk Studio, who designed The Covid Chronicle logo and constructed this beautiful website; to Nick Bolt who arranged the layout of the artwork and words, and dealt with the printers; and to Michael Escolme who masterminded the production of a video interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bm14Q53oNWY); also to Diana Springall (Art Collector, Author and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Broderers) who kindly wrote a much-valued, enthusiastic endorsement for the project.
Thanks are due to Marcus Beale Architects for their continued support and sponsorship of my community arts endeavours; I am also grateful to Peter Thomson whose enthusiasm helped build awareness of the project and secure donations towards its making and movement around the country. Peter's practical help has introduced me to various NHS Trusts, the Lightbox, Riverside Studios, and Tinx Newton writing for Surrey Life.
My sincere thanks also go to all the generous souls who donated to the project and MIND via the Crowdfunding page. For their sponsorship of the publication of the catalogue, my thanks go to Melissa Barnett at Chippenham Museum, Colin Simpson at Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead, Rosemary Cassidy-Buswell at Studio 40 in Neath, and the Directors of Sunbury Embroidery Gallery.
Apologies and thanks to Chippenham, whose offer to sell the catalogues through their online shop met with an unexpected tidal wave of demand; and my thanks also to Queen Street/Studio 40 Galleries in Neath who generously volunteered to take on the task subsequently (https://www.queenstreetgalleryneath.co.uk/contact).
I'd also like to thank John Hawks and the 'Wandle Fortnight 2022' organisers who sponsored a new hanging system suitable for textile panels in readiness for the Covid Chronicle exhibition at Merton Priory Chapter House Museum, which itself has historic links with the William Morris textile printworks.
The next, ultimate task is to find a museum or collector who would recognise the value in keeping The Covid Chronicle in its entirety, once the tour is over, as an investment for the future. We are excited to learn that there is a new Commission for Covid Commemoration - if anyone should be on their list it should be us - and if anyone reading this can help raise The Covid Chronicle's head above the parapet with an introduction to the right people in the right places, we would love to hear from you.
Thank you all,