Bourne Narratives

A colourful selection of felted creations, including flowers, fish and other wildlife inspired by the Bourne Narratives Project

Discover the new ‘Bourne Narratives’ display on your visit to Bourne Mill.

The Project

In partnership with Essex Cultural Diversity Project and local artists Nicola Burrell and Lisa Temple-Cox, ‘Bourne Narratives’ was inspired by the role Bourne Mill played in Colchester’s history as a wool town, when the mill was used for fulling. Fulling is the process of taking woven wool and beating it to create a denser cloth, a similar process to felting, where raw wool is wetted and rolled to create felt. 

Inspired by this process, the artists began a series of outreach workshops within the local community to teach the art of felt making. Beginning with a range of natural and dyed wools, workshop participants created their own piece of felted fabric. This was then appliqued with more wool, using felting needles to create an image in the cloth. 

The designs of each felted piece where inspired by the history of the mill and the ecology of the wider Bourne Valley area, as well as the stories and imagination of the community groups. Participants of all ages took part in the workshops, creating a series of unique felt patches. 

Felt creations inspired by Bourne Mill
The Felt creations from the Essex Cultural Diversity Project at Bourne Mill
Felt creations inspired by Bourne Mill

The Display

The individually crafted felts created during the project were stitched together to form a banner, now on display at Bourne Mill and available to view as part of your guided experience. The pattern of the banner describes the course of the mill stream and the ponds that lie along it, tying together the rich natural history of the area and embodying the participation of the people who took part. 

This artwork is a communally created tapestry of individually created felts, both a record and map of the project. The banner and project bring the together culturally diverse local communities that contributed to it and introduces new audiences to the location, history and wildlife of this unique mill.