Borders Buddies – Multisensory collaborative weaving sessions

“I didn’t know what to expect when I came here today”, confided one participant. “Neither did I!”, I told her.

The Borders is the home of weaving (Harris Tweed supposedly took its name and origins from this area). It is fitting, then, that the paths of Borders Buddies have meandered and deviated in and out like the weaving of the rivers, picking up unexpected new things on the way. One unexpected meeting was with Victoria Mitchell, an artist who has recently relocated to the Borders. Victoria has experience of delivering inclusive art workshops for less able or less included people. We asked her if she could offer something for Borders Buddies and she came up with a great idea.

“We can do a collaborative interactive soundscape group weaving project”. Victoria explained that this would use a combination of tactile, visual and sound-based materials, so that anyone with any sensory challenges could still benefit. Together with her assistant, Huia, Victoria laid out an impressive array of scrap fabrics, chunky yarns, copper wires and plastic garden netting! She showed the group how to create an image or design by attaching and weaving different materials, with the copper wire allowing for the conduction of pre-recorded sounds when linked to tiny electrical leads.

We had a very diverse and mixed group – older, younger, one school pupil off with an injury, one New Scot,  artists, people wanting to catch up with a friend…there was a real buzz in the room during the activity, and of course time for tea, coffee and snacks. People set to work with their creations – abstract designs, curving the wire into different shapes, working together or alone, chatting and offering tips and ideas. The safe space created also lent itself to the telling of more painful, personal stories.

We also had a visit from an artist who had a studio in part of the building – she shared news that there was a spare unit available. Other useful contacts included the hairdresser who attended and gave informal hairdressing tips! We heard tales of a recent visit to a Buddhist retreat in France, how people looked out for their neighbours, and lots of other stories. We learned that soya milk does not work well with hot drinks! And someone tasted their first ever Tunnock’s snowball! Our school pupil said “Thank goodness I didn’t have to read the books I brought! I thought I might be bored, but it was great – much better than school!”

Towards the end of the workshop (too soon!) we had a show and tell, connecting each artwork in turn to the electrical leads, and hearing some amazing sounds. One delighted participant was going to share the video of whale sounds with her daughter for her birthday the next day. The laughter and banter continued while we quickly cleared up the hall, in time for the pilates group which was happening next.

The caretaker was telling us how busy the hall was; village halls like this are a precious resource to communities and it is great to be able to contribute to their viability in a small way.

We will be having a follow-up session in Peebles Drill Hall on 15th May – all are welcome, whether you attended the Innerleithen session or not. These sessions are being run to support people’s mental and physical wellbeing, especially those who are less included or who have ongoing health conditions.



For more information check out our upcoming events on our project page or get in touch with Ruth at