this is Our Story.

Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works CIC was set up in 2019 by tapestry needle-point artist Tina Francis and community engagement professional Suze Carter. Tina and Suze have worked together previously on two large scale tapestry stitch projects as part of activity programmes funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund as stand alone projects. These were at Stirchley Baths and at The Hive; both in Birmingham. We feature project case studies below. They decided to continue their professional collaboration and set up a social enterprise to enable them to play a role in stitching communities together across the city.

c. Anne-Marie Hayes

We are… Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works CIC

Tina Francis

Creative Director

As Tina Francis Tapestry Tina sells tapestry needlepoint kits at all the major Stitch shows in the UK, she runs workshops from her Jewellery Quarter Studio at The Hive and teaches across the world. A true believer that “Craft Builds Community”, Tina uses her skills to build stitch groups around Birmingham. Tina also organises Jewellery Quarter Open Studios.

Suze Carter

Projects Director

Suze Carter has been a Community Engagement Consultant-Practitioner working in the heritage sector for almost 20 years. She is a real community enthusiast with specialisms in outreach and a passion for inclusion. She works part time as the Community Outreach and Learning Manager at The Hive, in the Jewellery Quarter, writes Activity Plans for heritage projects, and is an active volunteer (co-founder) at Stirchley Open Cinema; bringing communities together through film.

Board of Directors

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Our Story So Far...

Case Study 2016 - 2017

The Stirchley Baths Big Stitch Project

This is a case study of a project we ran before Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works CIC was born. It has informed the way we work.

If you swam at Stirchley Baths in the late 1980s you may well remember there was a tropical mural at the deep end of the pool, painted by the Assistant Manager, Paul Jones, to hide the scaffold which was supporting the eroding balcony. This was the starting point for our first collaborative tapestry project which involved 155 different stitchers, stitching over 350 individual pieces over an 8 month project.

These were stitched together in a single large tapestry artwork which hangs in the co-working space at Stirchley Baths. We worked with two local schools, ran family workshops, and stitched with people at public events. A regular group of stitchers also formed as part of the project, and still continue to meet monthly more than 2 years later. This project won a national stitch award in 2018 in the category of Crafting Happier Lives.

Alongside the artwork we created a gallery of most of the contributors. You can see the artwork during opening hours at Stirchley Baths. It has been on permanent display since 2017.

Case Study 2018 - 2019

The Bee Yourself Project

This is a case study of a project we ran before Woolly Mammoth Stitch Works CIC was born. 

The second artwork we created involved stitching with 1000 different people to create an artwork including 902 individually stitched bees. We engaged both males and females, aged from 4 to 90-something, from all sections of society and across the city and surrounding counties.

In fact, we captured where our stitchers had come from and something of their diversity in an accompanying exhibition. Over 700 people included a hand-written tag with a little bit of their story.

This project was all about collaboration. We worked with 11 schools, 40 community organisations, social groups and businesses, and other individuals and families living and working in Birmingham. What is clear from the tapestry is that every stitched bee is unique, just like its stitcher!

Alongside the artwork we have also captured something of our stitchers’ individual stories and personalities to illustrate how Birmingham connects to the rest of the UK and world, and how important these connections and shared heritage is for making our City such a culturally rich place to live.

“The artwork not only looks stunning but also offers a fantastic illustration of how beautiful things can happen when people who are different in so many ways, work together. There is strength in diversity”.

“Birmingham is and always has been a city of sanctuary. This project has shown that everyone has a place. I have stitched at workshops with 620 people across the city, and many hundreds more have stitched in their own groups with our tapestry kits. I have seen how one symbol has united children in their own classrooms and brought people together in a different way in their social and work environments. Everyone has been working together and towards the same goal, learning more about each other as they create their bees. As a stitch artist I am also very pleased that hundreds more people can use a needle!”

Tina Francis

The Bee Yourself artwork is on display at the Hive Café and Bakery, Vittoria Street. You are welcome to pop in and view the artwork and other heritage exhibitions for free from 7.30am-3.30pm Monday to Friday and on the second Saturday of the month, where you can also enjoy a tour of the building, including up to the rooftop to view the honeybees at work.

The Bee Yourself project has been possible thanks to a National Heritage Lottery Fund grant and is part of The Hive’s ongoing public engagement and activity programme.