Scarborough textile artist Helen Birmingham's latest heart exhibition raises funds for MIND - when you can see it

​Hundreds of embroiderers from across the country have created a ‘tree of love’ for the Hearts & Mind exhibition inspired by artist Helen Birmingham to raise funds for MIND.
Artist Helen Birmingham with her new hearts project on display at her gallery in her home in ScarboroughArtist Helen Birmingham with her new hearts project on display at her gallery in her home in Scarborough
Artist Helen Birmingham with her new hearts project on display at her gallery in her home in Scarborough

Helen, who was also behind the World War One commemorative exhibition 1,568 Sawdust Hearts at Woodend five years ago, launched the project in July.

She made and sent out 741 kits nationwide and the 257 hearts that were returned are on display in her gallery Untangled Threads in her home in Belle Vue Parade, Scarborough.

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The theme for the embroidery project is celebration – some are decorated to represent Christmas, love, coastline and nature while others are more abstract.

"So much love has gone into the creation of the exhibition,” said Helen.

The textile specialist founded and runs the Stitchbook Collective, which has more than 200 members from across the country, and is run online and through a members’ magazine.

They contribute part of their monthly subscription to MIND – amounting to more than £2,000 per year – as well as holding occasional fundraising events such as Hearts & Mind.

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"The ability of its members ranges enormously, from unbelievably talented embroiderers to people who just want to have a go. I am really proud of the group,” said Helen.

"I chose MIND because of my own mental health,” said Helen. “The Stitchbook Collective is about mindful stitching – it is about using stitching as a way of meditating.

"You don’t have to worry about whether you can do it or not because if you can put a needle through a piece of fabric you can do it.”

What Helen calls mindful stitching encourages good practice towards her own mental health.

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"Mindful stitching is focusing on the activity rather than the visual outcome, By that I mean that you concentrate fully on the needle and thread and try to clear your mind of all other thoughts.

"You can just focus on the needle rocking backwards and forwards as it passes in and out of the fabric.”

The link between mental health and embroidery is not new. It was used as part of the rehabilitation of service personnel in the First World War who were diagnosed with what was called ‘shell shock’ – now recognised as post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Stitching provides a sense of accomplishment – even if it is just a few stitches a day; no matter how slowly and no matter what the standard, the process will give you a sense of development and achievement,” said Helen.

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You can view Hearts & Minds at Untangled Threads, 5 Belle Vue Parade, Scarborough, on Saturday November 25 from 11am to 5pm; Sunday November 26 from 3pm to 5pm and Monday November 27 from 3pm to 7pm.

A catalogue is available at the gallery.

The hearts can be bought for £5 each only through the gallery website at:

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