The Napkin Project makes Guardian top five photo galleries in 2013

A project by Willis Newson Arts and Health

The Napkin Project

We are very excited that The Napkin Project made The Guardian’s Arts and Heritage top five photo galleries for 2013! The project was also featured as an article back in November on the Guardian Culture Professionals website  . The photos were taken by Jim Wileman during the celebration event at Brunelcare when all of the napkins were gifted to the care home.  Thank you to everyone who took part.


Guardian Culture Professionals article

A project by Willis Newson Arts and Health

We are all very excited at The Napkin Project HQ to learn that The Guardian Culture Professionals has written an article about The Napkin Project!  The article called “How creativity and craft are tackling dementia … one stitch at a time” also has a  picture gallery which shows images from the celebration event when all of the napkins were gifted to Brunelcare. 

ImageOddball Orangequit

‘The Orangequit is a true oddball among Jamaican endemics. It’s distinctive enough to have been placed in its own genus (Euneornis), and you’d be hard pressed to come up with any bird as an obvious closest relative. There just isn’t any.Orange_and_cross_section

Quit,” incidentally apparently comes from an African word for “little bird,” and describes this species’ penchant for eating oranges, not for the rusty-orange spot on the throat’

real silk mending + migration

Saffron Birds are being created using a variety of threads – wool , silk, casherino, mohair and cotton with details in cotton , linen and silk thread box. I came across a box of vintage silk darning threads a friend gave me a while ago so these are providing detail on a migrating Hoopoe bird in progress. The mending threads also provide a nice link to the theme of home .

hoopoe work in progress


The hoopoe is an exotic looking bird that is the size of a mistle thrush. It has a pinkish-brown body, striking black and white wings, a long black downcurved bill, and a long pinkish-brown crest which it raises when excited. It does not breed in the UK, but as many as 100 birds can turn up in spring (mostly seen as single birds) as birds migrating north to Europe from Africa overshoot and land on the south coast of England.

Cloth, clothing and dementia

Through research and in reading an article Clothing and Dementia’ by Julia Twigg I became more aware of the significance of cloth and clothing for those with dementia


‘In the context of dementia they can offer an immediate visual field, a source of tactile pleasure and engagement. They also contain prompts and reminders that endorse certain modes of behaviour, supporting wider social functioning.’

You can find a presentation by Julia Twigg  by clicking HERE

welcome to the project

a few of the birdsWelcome to the Napkin Project Blog.   I hope to post information on work in progress of my commissioned work for Saffron Gardens home in the lead up to the launch of our Community Napkin Project. We also hope to have a few knitting patterns on line too so as you can get involved in creating yourselves !

I am currently working on fabric books and a flock international birds so the studio is awash with coloured threads and texture .

Exploration of visual and tactile stimulus lead to the development of  fabric ‘sample’ books and a migratory flock of textile birds.  Both of these can travel throughout the space with residents, or be held and touched  by those residents who are less mobile.  The  flock of birds has been created using  soft natural yarns (silk, cotton, angora and wool) and embroidered to provide detail and additional tactile surfaces.  The birds chosen relate to birds from Jamaica, Punjab, Somalia and many other countries relevant to the residents in the Bristol home.

Each hand sized bird combines a variety of colour and texture through knit and stitch . Eacpink finch window sillh creature will be  stuffed with natural wool rather than synthetic stuffing. Sheep wool is a natural, sustainable, renewable, recyclable material that will not endanger the health of people or the environment at Saffron home. It is also fire retardant and  has a higher fire resistance than synthetic stuffing, does not burn, but instead singes away from fire and extinguishes itself .

I am trying to create birds that reference real species and which are humourous  and colourful but are not  reminsicent of childrens toys.  To date I have 6 pigeons, 4 parrots and a collection of species from Jamacia , Asia and Europe. I will be further posting progress over the following weeks !.