A typical session: Banter, support, everyone assisting each other in achieving their weaving goals.

Use of collages in clarifying meaning and purpose.

Brainstorming and small group exercises bring together keywords of recovery stories.

Some participants worked to a specific concept or image plan. Others organically chose pattern, colour or texture to translate experiences.

The whiteboard was used weekly to capture ideas, thoughts and meanings as they emerged.

A significant time in the project when everyone’s individual weaves came together to form a shared story.

Ongoing discussion throughout the project as participants discussed textures, colours and shapes of the group piece. Alongside this was the continuous redistribution of the pieces to create different narratives and storylines.

Pop up exhibition at Mahon Point Shopping centre with live weaving classes, information board and leaflets, along with dialogue between the participants and members of the public.


A call out was shared with all departments of Headway Cork and 12 participants from various programmes signed up for the project. All of those participating were experiencing some form of aphasia or language issues, alongside weakness of movement and paralysis.


Participants were offered an alternative means of expression, through materials and weave, to share their stories of recovery. Many of those with ABI feel silenced by their illness and have difficulty reconnecting with family, friends and communities.

During the research and development phase (funded by the Artist in the Community Scheme), participants reflected that they enjoyed engaging in weaving from a confidence building, self-expression and group camaraderie perspective.

The AIC Project Realisation Award wove the threads of success from the R&D phase and brought together the individual experiences of recovery through weave into a collaborative woven wall hanging, reflecting participants’ shared rehabilitation from “Darkness into Light”. This was exhibited as part of Brain Awareness Week 2024.


The methodology for this project can be summarised as follows:

Collage was used throughout the project to capture ideas, concepts and meanings through a more visual language. This allowed participants to begin to see how thoughts, feelings and purpose could be displayed through imagery, colour and framing.

Whiteboard: Quotes from participants, emerging themes, post-it notes from group exercises, rough drawings and layouts were all complied on the whiteboard as a means of capturing the ad hoc discussions and programmed exercises. Notes were taken by staff alongside the whiteboard responses with all notes being transcribed to a shared Google Doc.

Participant interviews: Over several weeks, each member of the group was interviewed by another member. Questions generally pertained to the meaning of the piece, the choice of colour or materials. Inevitably the interviews would become more personal, as the group shared their personal experiences before their ABI, during their rehab or the aftermath of their recovery.

Design and Creation: Alongside these methods, most of the workshop’s activities were the design, creation and problem solving of the group’s individual woven pieces. A series of rectangular and circular weaves were made, with each piece being utterly unique to the maker. As a result, the project needed to be paced and taught based on each individual’s requirements.

The group worked continuously on both their individual and group piece. In the last month or so, half the time was allocated to choosing the colouring, texture and effect of the background material and layout of the group piece. This was done through ongoing cooperation, negotiation and experimentation.

Lastly, although not officially a method, the tea break acted as a time when participants could go around and engage with each other’s pieces, taking themselves out of their often quiet personal making time of reflection and into a broader discussion regarding different options for their pieces. These conversations provided the backbone for many future debates.

Artistic Outputs

The key artistic output was a woven wall hanging that was exhibited as part of a collaborative event for Brain Awareness Week 2024. The weaving group came together with the Headway Choir to provide a day of live weaving classes, information displays and celebration through song.

The wall hanging was made from an old life raft (the material was provided by Mamukko Kinsale). Using the theme of transformation, the group represented their journey to recovery as a ship caught in stormy seas finding its way to a safe harbour with the help of a lighthouse.

Additionally, an A1 board was created explaining the meaning of the project with samples weaves attached to show the diversity of the medium.

Evaluation Methodology

The project has been evaluated primarily by the participants, in collaboration with the artist, staff and management. Evaluation included ongoing dialogue and reflection as the project progressed.

Regular meetings between the artist and staff ensured that project and participants’ needs were being addressed.

Evaluation Outcomes

Participants and staff provided feedback that the creation of this art piece has had a profound impact on all those involved in the group.

The group began to develop an ability to get ideas out of their heads and create a narrative and relationship based on the weave.

It is interesting that you can tell the stories through the weaving. I’m surprised that I could make a story through colour and stitches.’ – Jenn

The group became more energised as the weeks went on, with a growing sense of camaraderie, mutual support and shared understanding.

Through my own recovery journey and the weaving project, life began to be filled with colour. I now feel positive and invigorated.’ – Chris

A sense of pride, confidence and belonging grew within the group, with each person discovering their own potential and a form of acceptance with their lives.

I was in a place of darkness where everything was black and white, drab. Now, with my piece, I want it to be filled with colour as this is now how I see life.’ – Ger

Documentation and Dissemination

  • The outcomes of the project were primarily documented through shared Google Drive documents.
  • Project documentation included interviews, photographs, and descriptive and reflective notes.
  • Project outcomes were shared through newspaper articles, social media and within the organisation’s communications.
  • Outcomes were showcased at Brain Awareness Week 2024.

Date of Publication

April 2024

Project dates

September 2023 - March 2024

Lead organisation

Headway Ireland

Funded By

Arts Council / Create Artist in the Community Scheme: Research & Development Award, Project Realisation Award


Lucy Hyland


Traditional Arts, Visual Arts

Healthcare context(s)

Community Health

Nature of project

Collaborative/ participatory




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