'One Hundred Sawdust Hearts' follows in the footsteps of Untangled Threads extremely successful exhibition of O/S maps. (Artwork created by 100 artists, using a decommissioned Ordnance Survey Map as their inspiration).  The O/S map exhibition was one of the highlighted exhibitions at Scarborough's local Arts Festival 'Coastival' in February 2017.


Coastival 2018 beckons, and the challenge was to find another topic for artists to respond to. As part of my research and general interest, I recently came across 'Sweetheart Pincushions" which had been made by convalescing soldiers during and after World War 1. Since 2018 is the centenary marking the end of WW1, I wondered if there might be an opportunity to find connections here.

I became fascinated by the stories behind the WW1 pincushions, and the fact that they had been made as a deliberate attempt at Occupational Therapy. They in no way glorified or celebrated war, but rather focussed on rehabilitation and healing. Each heart began with the same basic sawdust filled cotton, but the end results were infinitely various. Here was the connection I had been seeking. 



Curator's Notes: Artists are reminded that they may use ANY material or media of their choice to 'alter' the sawdust heart. Paint, print, stitch, photography, collage, sculpture, etc. The heart can remain as one piece, or it can be mounted as part of a picture or sculpture, or even deconstructed in some way.  Maximum size of finished work is 12" x 12" x12".  It is NOT the intention that this exhibition simply be 'decorated hearts' or hearts in the style of WW1 Sweetheart Pincushions.  You may wish to tell a story with the heart, make a statement, give a message, show a particular technique which you work with, or a particular interest you have. I would repeat that my hope is that we will see 100 very different artistic outcomes. 


The follow-on, exhibition to this one (1,568 hearts), if funded, will concentrate on commemoration and remembrance of WW1, each heart representing one specific date in the war.  The illustrated publication, '100 sawdust hearts' will be available for purchase at both exhibitions - This is a chance for you to make a visual statement. What can 100 individual artists come up with???   Go for it!!

Helen Birmingham (Curator, Untangled Threads)

o/s map exhibition 2017

WW1 sweetheart pincushions

Replica WW1 Hearts

WW1 sweetheart pincushions

Background and Curator's Notes

one hundred sawdust hearts

© 2015 by Helen Birmingham