A DUMBARTON-based recovery charity has unveiled its new tapestry that celebrates the life of a Dunkirk 'Little Ship'.

The Skylark IX Recovery Project unveiled the ‘Skylark IX Community Tapestry’ at a launch event held at the Lennox Evangelical Church this week.

The Skylark IX Community Tapestry celebrates the life of the Skylark IX, from its construction as a pleasure boat in 1934 to its role in the Dunkirk evacuations during the Second World War.

Now undergoing restoration at the Scottish Maritime Museum, Skylark IX is inspiring those recovering from addictions or facing social isolation across West Dunbartonshire.

The tapestry, which was created as part of the nationwide Year of Stories, was handcrafted by the project’s ‘Skylark IX in Stitches’ group and members of the wider community.

Over the 14-month mental health and well-being project, the stitchers, who were mostly total beginners, learned the traditional life skills of hand stitching, embroidery and applique.

The resulting Skylark IX Community Tapestry, which has been made mostly of recycled fabric, thread and yarn donated by the community and using wooden battens crafted by the Project’s Community Boatbuilders, brings Skylark’s spirit and her story of resilience and hope to life over 12 vibrant imagined scenes.

Jade West, community engagement lead at the Skylark IX Recovery Project, said:“The Skylark IX Community Tapestry is extra special. It tells Skylark’s story through community voices – voices which are not always captured in mainstream exhibits. 

“It has been an amazing labour of love for everyone. Working together on an activity rooted in our shared heritage has also, importantly, been for many of our stitchers a much-needed safe space to grow in creative confidence, gain life skills and make friendships as part of their recovery from the pandemic.

“We are so grateful to all our dedicated stitchers, funders and supporters who made the Skylark IX Community Tapestry possible.”

Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter:

Each stitcher also added their own personal stories and creative ideas to the visual storybook along with symbols of Dumbarton’s history.

Hidden in each of the 12 panels also sits a small stitched heart representing the love people have for Skylark and the project has for the community.

The charity are now keen to hear from local organisations and who may be interested in displaying the tapestry  - either temporarily or on a permanent basis.

Suzanne Marshall-Smith, textile artist and tapestry lead added:  “Hand stitching and embroidery are both incredibly soothing, mindful activities which help calm the mind by focusing on the present. Each week, many of our stitchers told us they felt calmer and less anxious as they embroidered. 

“Everyone brought so much creativity and positivity to the Tapestry. They embraced Skylark’s story and added their own touches giving the finished tapestry so much personality. What they’ve achieved individually and collectively is fantastic!”

The Skylark IX Community Tapestry builds on the success of the Skylark IX Recovery Project’s earlier community mental health and well-being textile projects – The 2020 Skylark IX Lockdown Quilt and 2021 Make Do and Mend workshops - both also co-ordinated by Jade West and Suzanne Marshall-Smith.

Local organisations and venues interested in displaying the tapestry can contact Jade West by emailing skylarkinfo@alternativeswd.org.

For more information on the Skylark IX Recovery Project, visit www.skylarkix.co.uk