It’s a wrap!

- the editorial team, Elise Valmorbida, Fiona Thompson, Sue Evans, Wendy Sacks Jones

The Fine Cell Work project team report back on a fabulous launch party, and a fitting culmination of one of 26’s most ambitious projects.

On 26 April—yes, the date is auspicious—Threads of Time was officially launched into the world. This is a story book, art book and history book in one gorgeous hardback, and all proceeds go direct to the inimitable charity Fine Cell Work. Copies of the book are now with the 26 Archive at Falmouth University, the British Library and prison libraries all over the country, not to mention all those who supported the crowdfunding campaign.

More than 30 people from 26 were involved: writing 1,000-word essay chapters, fragments and poetry, editing, project directing, promoting and publicising, analysing options for fundraising and publishing, print sourcing, inventing a competition for words to be embroidered on limited-edition cushions, and generally coming together, despite lockdown, for a period of more than two years. Phew. How exciting it was to meet at last, in real life, at Fine Cell Work HQ, where the mood really was celebratory. Yes, there were speeches, Prosecco and canapés, and hobnobbing without masks. There was a nail-biting auction which raised more dosh for Fine Cell Work. What was under the hammer? Our book’s cover artwork, embroidered, framed. The book’s endpapers, a geometric needlepoint work made into a cushion, and yes, that competition cushion designed by visual artist David Caines and embroidered with words by 26er Caroline Kohl: HOPE IS THE KEY.

Fiona Thompson, one of the book’s editorial Gang of Four, says: “The launch of Threads of Time was utterly joyous. An archway lined with twinkling lights and silver birch trees, a Threads of Time ‘library’ alcove, a live auction, delicious food from The Clink and, of course, the huge pleasure of seeing so many people in real life—Tracy Chevalier, the Fine Cell Work crew and our editorial team: Elise Valmorbida, Wendy Sacks Jones and Sue Evans. It was wonderful to meet up with so many 26ers who contributed to the book, including Rebecca Dowman, Julia Webb-Harvey, Sophie Gordon, Nicola Gill, Emily Bromfield, Mike Benson and Rishi Dastidar (our man with the villanelle). It feels like a huge achievement to have produced such a beautiful book for a charity that does such important work. Thank you to everyone who played a role in bringing it to life, whether you were writing, editing, advising or otherwise helping out. This book is really something to be proud of.”

Sue Evans got to meet Max Worsley, son of the late Antarctic explorer, army officer and commissioner of Shackleton centenary cushions, Henry Worsley. As Wendy Sacks Jones says: “It was a wonderful mix of FCW supporters, 26 writers, volunteers, and commissioners of the products we wrote about, such as Michelle Curran whose deceased husband’s shirts were made into beautiful patchwork quilts for their two young sons. Not only was this a joyous celebration of 25 years of a wonderful charity that 26 has partnered, but Elise shared a platform with Tracy who paid tribute to the work of 26 in producing Threads of Time. Tracy re-tweeted a 26 post, adding: Congratulations on a great book!

Well done and huge thanks to everyone who helped to bring this special project through to completion.

Yours, the editorial team, Elise Valmorbida, Fiona Thompson, Sue Evans, Wendy Sacks Jones

PS You can still buy the book here!

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