In the week the NHS celebrates its 75th anniversary, the ONCA gallery in Brighton and Hove is exhibiting a Sussex-made Threads of Survival quilt.

The quilt is viewable in the ONCA window gallery 5-10 July. Outside of the gallery at 10.30 on the 5th July visitors will be able to sign a birthday card for the NHS and learn about the issues currently facing the NHS.

The Sussex-made quilt project began in March 2023 and more than 40 squares have been made by over 25 people. The issues raised by the squares include privatisation, NHS worker pay claims, mental health issues, Covid, Solidarity, issues facing migrants, NHS waiting lists, NHS staff shortages, and love of and support for the NHS. 

The organisation Sussex Defend the NHS has agreed to be the guardians of the quilt and there are plans for its use in different parts of the city over the coming years. 

The Threads of Survival project was begun by volunteers from the organisation 999 Call For the NHS during the Covid pandemic in 2020 as a new way of engaging the public with the issues in the NHS. There have been 28 quilts and textile art made as part of the project and these have been touring England.

The project belongs to a tradition of documenting important historical events and protest in quilts and textiles. The volunteers say they were inspired by the AIDS Quilt from the 1980s and the quilts made by the Arpilleras that document the atrocities committed by Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile during the 1970’s.

Brighton & Hove has a history of radical quilt-making, the most famous of which is the Guernica quilt, which was a remaking Picasso’s painting Guernica as a protest banner. Created between 2012 and 2014 by 12 artists and activists from Brighton, several of the women involved in that project were also involved with the Sussex Threads of Survival quilt. 


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