Fynn Ralph Hopper writes:
Life and Loom is a social and therapeutic weaving studio established by Fynn and Holly Hopper. The couple have recently moved back to Hull, having spent the last three years living in a Camphill Community in Scotland. Here they shared their house with their three young children and six adults with additional needs, including learning disabilities, downs syndrome and autism. The approach of the Camphill organisation is informed by social pedagogy and integrates education, care, hand craft and therapy to create a holistic response to the needs of the individual.
The insights of both Fynn and Holly have shaped Life and Loom into a safe place where they strive to support trainees to develop a social identity that is related to what they can do, not what they cannot. They want to provide an opportunity for people to engage in meaningful work; where people are able to say for example, ‘I’m a weaver’, ‘I’m a spinner’.
Working in partnership with Giroscope and the Hull and East Riding Time Bank, Fynn and Holly are opening the studio on Selby Street, Boulevard. A team of volunteers and Timebankers will be beautifying the studio over the course of the next few weeks in preparation for it to open in the summer.
Holly discovered her love of weaving whilst volunteering in a museum in South Greenland in 2012, and through her time in Camphill developed an appreciation for the social and therapeutic potential of this traditional hand craft. Camphill have a rich tradition of social enterprise and supportive work environments for adults with special needs, and you will find their weaving day workshops across the world.
During Fynn’s career as a Learning Disability Nurse he found that the majority of adults with additional needs want to work, but only a small proportion are in employment. Negative attitudes and low expectations of their abilities are common amongst employers, and many people require support to develop skills and need flexible or personalised work programmes.
Life and Loom offers meaningful work and enterprise skills to adults with additional needs including learning disabilities, autism spectrum conditions, mental health conditions and physical disabilities. The day workshop is skill-based and incorporates a holistic approach to hand craft. We work with natural materials such as wool, shaping materials by hand into artisan products through a variety of traditional methods and processes; for example, carding, spinning, dying, knitting, felting, sewing and weaving. In this way we give people an opportunity to take hold of the world and its natural materials, its physical substance. By doing this the person will not only be transforming matter into useful objects, but they will be transformed by the different elements and processes involved in producing the fabric. We endeavour to involve people in all parts of this process; each person’s ideas, experiences and contribution are equally valuable.
We don’t use machines in the workshop which produce uniform patterns and straight edges. We use human hands and hearts which reveal themselves in the variations, the unevenness, and the flaws of the woven fabric. We encourage people to be free to explore different textures, colours, patterns and ideas without a fear of doing something the wrong way. We try to be open and enthusiastic in each moment and we try to be kind to ourselves whilst weaving. We try to notice the beauty around us and be alert to our own thoughts and emotions.
Fynn, Holly and their team of craftspeople will provide workshop trainees with an individual package of care and support people to set goals in three areas: Personal Growth, Becoming Skilled and Community Relationships. A person’s goals may include wellbeing, identity, confidence, workplace skills, hand-eye coordination, self-expression, work readiness, contributing and making a difference, social responsibility, communication and social skills or friends and relationships. Our little studio is a place where all people are valued as artists and where all people can enjoy their own creative nature, regardless of previous experience or perceived artistic ability. Each person can bring their own ideas, personality, hopes, choices, rhythm and preferences so that every fabric produced is completely unique.
At Life and Loom we let our weaving be an expression of who we are, right here and now in the present moment.