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'Kept At Bay'

Felt & rags tapestry by Ellie Thompson, 2020


Over forty-nine hours, I hand-stitched this tapestry. These were forty-nine hours not wasted trawling online or endlessly napping. The process of making it was so physical that it made my arms and back throb, yet I preferred this aching to the dullness that lockdown inflicted.


Stuck indoors and in a rut, I really needed to find a purpose. I found comfort in reinvigorating scraps of clothes, sewing them together to make something new. My artistic practice is so important to me, extending beyond passion into genuine self-care.  I truly believe in the meditative qualities of craft. I thoroughly enjoy immersing myself in the process of making as a means of purging anxieties, which are largely political. In this case, I felt too despairing of the ineffectual national leadership to analyse it creatively, so I reverted to my own online search history as a source of inspiration. 


Throughout lockdown, my house turned into one of my best studios yet; this tapestry truly was a turning point, through which I channelled any negativity from feeling cooped up into productivity. I began to view my living space differently, and whilst I missed the mess of the studio, home suddenly seemed full of potential. Home became the site of some of the most funky, adventurous, care-free art I have ever made. If it wasn’t for my home this piece would not have been created, and if it wasn’t for this piece my home would not have transformed into such an exciting space for development. 


Ellie Thompson is a student in her second year of undergraduate studies at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford. 

You can find more of her work on Instagram: @ellief.thompson

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