PRESS RELEASE ……  5th June 2019


With the help of OT’s from across the country, Mixed Media Artist, Helen Birmingham is creating a textile-based artwork, which will be donated to The Royal College of Occupational Therapy. Helen is attending the RCOT annual conference later this month, and says: ‘Part of the conference area has been dedicated as a Stop, Do and Relax Area. The aim of my company, Untangled Threads, is to promote the meditative, therapeutic and educational qualities of art and craft. At RCOT 2019 I will involve delegates in helping to create a significant artwork, representing the history of Occupational Therapy in this country.’


 In 2018 Untangled Threads undertook a hugely successful project which, as well as commemorating the 100th Anniversary of The Armistice and raising much needed funds for Combat Stress, also looked at the history of Sawdust Hearts.  Decoration of the original calico hearts with embellishments and pins was suggested by Queen Mary at the end of WW1, as a form of Occupational Therapy for injured servicemen. It marked a significant point in the history of OT. Helen says:

‘I decided to make one sawdust-filled heart to represent each day of WW1 - a total of 1,568. These were posted out and decorated by individuals from all over the UK, returned to me to take part in an overwhelmingly emotional exhibition in November 2018, before being sent back home in April 2019. 179 of the 1,568 hearts were left undecorated, and formed a moving installation representing all victims of all wars, military and civilian. 20 of these undecorated hearts will now form the ‘heart’ of the RCOT artwork.’


At RCOT 2019, delegates will be offered the opportunity to ’stop and relax’ whilst making a few basic ‘running stitches’ onto small pieces of calico and muslin. The stitched pieces will be attached to the calico hearts with pins, and threaded connections will be made between the hearts themselves. The finished piece of work measuring 100cm x 60cm x 8cm will be glazed and presented by Helen Birmingham to RCOT later in the year.


#untangledthreads  #slowstitching  #RCOT2019