Art Therapy / Textile

The Therapy of Textiles

plural noun: textiles
a type of cloth or woven fabric.
“a fascinating range of pottery, jewellery, and textiles”
synonyms: fabric, cloth, material, “hand-printed textiles”

I recall my first encounter with textiles. I was around ten, and was helping my Mother tidy up the leftover fabric scraps scattered around her sewing machine. Here I would take every opportunity to collect (other’s would say hoard) an assortment of fabrics ranging from dark to light, and plain to patterned. Having had this fascination, I enjoyed identifying the unique characteristics of each piece of fabric from its texture, to inspecting its fine stitch detail.

As an Art Therapist creating response art, I have come to notice using my own collection of curated fabrics these metaphorically capture the theme of survival. With some parts of the fabrics missing, torn and unknown, these reflect quite similarly the stories and experiences of the unaccompanied children and young people I work with. Below is an image I created in response to working with refugee children.


Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 19.19.36


“… in every piece of fabric, I believe there is a unique therapeutic quality embedded… reflecting the unique stories and experiences of those who have survived.”

Quote from my reflective journal.


There are many authors who have shared their metaphorical associations with textiles. Below are a few examples.

“Another metaphor associated amongst tapestry is seen when comparing the front (image that we see) with the back. The front shows what people what you to see and understand; the back is full of threads and knots that hold the meaning together… a literacy idiom of tapestry, “be part of life’s rich tapestry,” suggests that you must accept all parts of your life that you cannot avoid.” (Collier, 2012).


“Embroidery is a process of conveying and capturing stories. Behind every embroidered piece there is a story.” (Prain, 2014). 


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