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Patchwork Object

We invite you to contribute to a collaboratively made work of art that explores stories about women’s creative identities. Participants from around the world will send patches to us that will be put together by artist Ruth Broadway into a single patchwork object.

The project

The creation of this patchwork object forms part of a wider project on the history of art making. This project, titled The Art of Fiction: Women’s Writing and the Decorative Arts, is based at the University of Exeter and led by Dr Patricia Zakreski. The research questions at the heart of this project consider how judgements of literary, aesthetic, and professional value affect women working in creative industries and how these women interact with these values in order to establish professional identities.

What do you mean by women’s creative identities?

We are exploring hierarchies of art making by asking questions such as what have people thought about different art mediums in the past? What hierarchies have existed in art making in the past and now? For example, have people thought/do people think that painting requires more expertise than sewing?

We are also examining the relationship of women’s professional lives to questions about art making, considering questions such as what access did and do professional women artists have to training and materials? Did/does this influence their professional life?

We want to hear your stories about women’s creative identities. Is there a creative woman who has particularly inspired you? Do you have stories about female friends and family members? Is the craft that your mother/grandmother taught you art? Are you a creative woman who has a story to tell about your own experience? Other prompts that may inspire you include thinking about women’s protest craft, suffragette art, craftivism, textile art as community building, and stitching and wellbeing.

How to take part

We are asking participants to send us a piece of material and accompanying story that fit with our theme by 30 September 2024. To do this, you will need to:

  1. Read the Online Survey Informed Consent document
  2. Fill out the Patchwork Object Registration Form
  3. Send your patch to:

    The Art of Fiction Project
    C/O Department of English and Creative Writing
    Queen’s Building
    The Queen’s Drive
    EX4 4QH
    United Kingdom

Please include a note that helps us to link your story to your patch. You could: include a copy of your story in the envelope, include your name and location in the envelope and on your submission form.

Material requirements

We ask that your patch has the following aspects:

  • Theme: women’s creative identities
  • Size: 10cm x 10cm
  • Materials: anything that can be stitched (a needle can pass through the edges)

You can send us a patch that you have worked on (for example, stitched on, painted, beaded) or a piece of material that has significance to your story. Both/either will make excellent additions to our collaborative work.

Other things to note

Your patch will be stitched together with others, so make sure to take account of a border of at least 1cm around the edge of your square (see our visual guide below).

Though we imagine that most contributors will send us one square, there is no limit to the number of squares an individual person can send us.

Patchwork size guide

The visible part of your patch should be 10cm x 10cm. It should have a border of at least 1cm all around, making the whole patch at least 12cm x 12cm.

You may choose to send us your patch with a border greater than 1cm. This is fine – it will be cut to size by the artist.

Image rights

Please note that by sending us your patch, you give us the right to photograph and disseminate photographs of that object.

Social Media

You can follow us on Instagram and Threads at @artfictionproject and use the hashtag #patchworkobjectproject to share your progress with us and the wider community.

How to withdraw

If you wish to withdraw:

  • After you have filled out the form, but before you have sent us the patch: there is nothing else that you need to do. Your information will not be included in the project until we receive the patch.
  • After you have filled out the form and sent us your patch, before September 2024: please email Alex Gushurst-Moore to let us know that you no longer wish to take part in the project.
  • After September 2024: once the patch has become part of the object, we will not be able to remove it. However, we can securely remove your personal data from the project record, so please email Alex Gushurst-Moore if you would like us to do that.


Is there an age requirement?

We invite patches made by participants who are 18 or older.

Do I need to be a professional artist to take part?

No! We are looking for anyone that wants to tell a story about our theme. Whether you are a professional artist, an experienced enthusiast, or a complete novice, we would be thrilled to have you contribute to this work.

Do I need to be a woman to take part?

No! We invite everyone to take part in this project to tell stories about women’s creative identities.

What is the data collected by the form going to be used for?

This form:

  • collects the story about your patch. A photograph of your patch will be uploaded to our website along with the story, so that viewers can learn more about the item and what inspired you to send it in.
  • collects data about you, so that we can add your name to the list of artists that contributed to this collaborative work. You do not need to provide this information to take part, and you are free to withdraw this information at any time.

What is the deadline?

The deadline for patches to be received by us in Exeter, UK, is 30 September 2024. Professional work on the construction of the patchwork will then begin.

Do you pay for postage?

We cannot pay for postage of the patches to Exeter. If you cannot pay for postage, please get in touch with us so that we can discuss what options you do have.

Will you acknowledge receipt of the work?

We will not be able to acknowledge receipt of the work. We recommend sending it tracked if you want to check receipt.

What happens to my patch after I send it to you?

Once you have sent your patch to us, it will become part of a collaboratively made work of art designed and made by Ruth Broadway. It will be put on temporary display following completion.

If you supply your email via the accompanying form, we will communicate the exhibition dates with you.

The description sounds like you’re expecting the patches to be commercial fabric that has been embellished, rather than fabric made entirely from scratch. Can I make a piece of fabric from scratch?

Yes! Beyond the patch size (10cm x 10cm) and our ability to incorporate the patch into a wider textile-based artwork (a border of at least 1cm, through which a needle can pass), there are no limitations on the material qualities of the piece that you submit. We hope that the work is a rich tapestry of embellished scraps, pieces of material with a story, and patches made from scratch.

Other questions?

Do you have any questions? Feel free to email Alex Gushurst-Moore.

Will all the work be used in the final piece?

Yes, all work that meets the project criteria will be digitized and made available via the Patchwork Project website. The design of the physical artwork will be decided by the artist.