30yrs of DIY Theatre – Telling our stories through textiles.

photo of lots of drawings on pieces of fabric

The Close Knit project is a textiles project being developed with Visual artist Claire Hignett. Claire is working with DIY participants so that we can tell our stories through textiles. The finished artwork will be a soft handling sculpture that represents the history and legacy of the company.

The project title Close Knit references the textiles skills members are learning as well as the community of people with lived experience of learning disability who have developed the member-led company over the past 30 years.

photo: 4 people are sitting around a colourful stripey textile or rug. 3 are looking at this, and one woman is kneeling beside it. A man sitting at the back has noticed the camera and is looking at us.

photo: A woman is sitting at a desk wearing blue rubber gloves and a shirt on backwards. The desk is covered in paper and it looks like she has been printing with blue and purple ink. Infront of her is a print of a face. Another woman is leaning towards her as she looks at the print.

Alongside the development of the soft handling sculpture, members are working with film-maker Hilary Easter Jones to create a film. As well as documenting the process of creating the sculpture the filmmaking is also enabling also allow us to capture some of the stories that are emerging as the textile piece is being created.


photo: A man is smiling and holding up a tote bag for us to see. The bag has a purple triangle on it. Inside this are lots of coloured starts and a figure with hands waving.

The first stage of the process has involved participants in DIY’s visual arts group creating pennants that express themselves. The group has been creating a pennant design on paper and then transferring the design onto fabric triangles using fabric pens. After creating their pennants, participants printed a copy of their images onto tote bags which they have taken home.

With Claire we’ve been making a triangle out of cloth. We’ve been using special pens on the fabric. I prefer working on fabric because it’s therapeutic. When you’re doing the fabric it’s actually quite relaxing and the time soon passes by as well”

I like how we’re getting to use something we’ve never used before, like fabric, and we’ve also used fabric paint what I’ve never used before. I found the fabric paint really hard because you put a blob on and it dries before you’ve had time to put another one on, so you have to work really, really fast… I’ve got lines and curves on my flag but I’ve also got Marvel on it. I’ve got Hulk’s hand, Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield. Captain America’s my favourite one, second is Thor then the third is Hulk.”

photo: A man is smiling and holding up a tote bag for us to see. The bag has a triangle on it made up of lots of colourful drawings.

Core Company bring historical focus to the piece

photo: a smiling woman is holding up a piece of white fabric with a brightly coloured drawing on it of people and tall objects. Behind her other people are working at a table and filming.

In mid April Claire Hignett came in to work with Core Company members. Some of these have been with DIY since it began and took part in the 20 year celebrations.

To refresh peoples memories, the session began by watching some of our old films and talking about the projects people had been involved in in the past. Core Company members then drew pictures of their favourite memories and moments from DIY shows.

Throughtout the day Hilay Easter-Jones was filming to capture the process for the film we are making about the Close Knit Project.

Find out more


'30 years' in big red and violet letters with 3 balloons on each side. Underneath written smaller '1994-2024'

logo of National Lottery Heritage Fund

Our thanks to the funders who are supporting the projects which will help us celebrate DIY’s 30th Birthday.

The Close Knit project is being funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

DIY run a range of projects and workshops with adults with learning disabilities which usually change each term. You can find out about all the courses we are currently running on our webpage Creative sessions for adults with learning disabilities