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Weaving Together A Community

In the summer of 2010, South Hill Vancouver community resident and artist, Shary Bartlett, was inspired to develop a project in her community that could bring her neighbourhood together. She envisioned an art piece that could be displayed in public spaces and during some of the local South Hill festivals and events.

“I wanted to facilitate art work that young children, adults and seniors could easily participate in because I believe art can be created by everyone—not just artists. We are all creative,” says Bartlett.

Of her own work with fibers and fabric, Bartlett says, “I found organza to be a lightweight, colorful, and beautiful fabric. I thought it would be lovely woven into a large tapestry using threads of fabric into a web of bird netting”. 

Also inspired by the beautiful view of the North Shore mountains seen from her neighborhood, Bartlett says, “I decided to work with my community to co-create a depiction of this view in a woven tapestry”.

Bartlett hoped to literally weave together her community through this project. “Seventy five per cent of my neighborhood uses English as a second language,” she explains. “Weaving arts are familiar to every culture, making it an ideal tool to create intercultural communication and fusion. Conversation and new friendship can’t help but emerge across a loom!”

Bartlett knew the project would require some financial support. After learning about Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants program from a community member, she applied for a grant. She and another neighbour received grants for the project over the next two years. Together they received $600 in 2011 and $500 in 2012, to pay for the many materials and supplies needed. Soon the weaving began—the tapestry came together over two and a half years, woven by many hands from South Hill during events and gatherings.
 

Titled South Hill Sunset, the tapestry also generated many community highlights for Bartlett. The first was meeting a new neighbour who, after learning about the weaving at the annual South Hill festival in the newspaper, connected with Bartlett and shared photographs of his wife’s weaving—her name is Traude Dolker.

“Traude’s work was so beautiful. I remember watching her expertly weave a few strands into our tapestry and I could see how talented she was. She offered to help me with the project and we quickly became friends. I could not have done the weaving without her expertise.”

Bartlett also recalls children who would see the weaving at community events and remark how they had helped.

The tapestry had its formal debut in Vancouver Foundation’s office entrance in January 2013. “It is the perfect place to begin displaying the weaving because we are so grateful for Vancouver Foundation’s support in our community,” says Bartlett.

“I believe a great deal of strength in our community has been built upon several of these grants that we have been fortunate to receive from Vancouver Foundation.” Bartlett has experienced the benefits of a strong community and adds, “As neighbours, we know and support one another and feel so glad to live here.”

More than 200 people participated in threading the tapestry—fulfilling Bartlett’s vision to help weave together her community. The result? A beautiful legacy that will surely thread conversation at future community events.

Learn more about Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood Small Grants program, and how you can participate or apply for a grant www.vancouverfoundation.ca/NSG.

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