Back to Books and Invisible Threads


Back to Books was formed as a Reading Group in 1995 but since 2008 has become a group involved with arts, health, literature and history. The group aims to create opportunities for members of the community to engage in art workshops, exploring chosen themes through printmaking, textiles and aural and written stories. We aim to create projects, which strengthen or support the health and well being of our members and the wider community. Our group aims to develop skills, confidence and offer the opportunity for members of the community to bond and forge links via arts activities and events. Through our projects we enable artists / members to create work which will engage / inspire the community. Members are drawn together by a passion for social history, reading, writing and making. Back To Books is a not for profit community organisation run by volunteers and raises funding on a project by project basis. Back to Books has a bank account and is fully constituted. Our most recent project was Invisible Threads which explored the lives of forgotten or unknown female relatives through research and creative practices. We are Not For Profit organisation which develops on a project by project basis. We are based in Corby but have members in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire


Through felting, textiles and screen-printing, Carole helped participants in the project unravel the histories of women in their own pasts and use what they´ve discovered to inform the stunning Invisible Threads collection.
A Victorian lighthouse keepers´s wife at Land´s End, a medal-winning world war telephonist and a Medieval mother of an archer sent to France in 1417 just some of the host of remarkable women reclaimed from historical obscurity by the ingenious "Invisible Threads" project.Genealogy - now one of the nations’ most popular and engrossing pastimes - usually follows the patriarchal line. 

That´s why Northamptonshire-based artist Carole Miles was asked to coordinate an arts and writing project focusing exclusively on ordinary women from family history for the group Back To Books. These inventive, tireless and inspiring women have become the muses for a group of 21st century community artists - profession and novice - whose celebratory work makes up an exhibition of beautiful textiles and evocative writing. 

Works were made by Pamela Harirson, Maureen Walvin, Meriel White, Chris Demanuel, Lorraine Dziarkowska, Ann Leonard, Lynne Grant, Sonia Hawes, Maria Ludlow, Jill Kitchen, Cathy Ebbles, Carol Bullen, Anne Marshal, Grace Marshal, Ellen Marshal, Tina Lucas Varnfield, Sarah Stringer, Deborah Hucker, Pam Willis, Gerrie Murphy, Emma Davies, Margot Norris, Karen Pirie, Lisa Wilkinson, Susan McRoberts, Kate Dyer, Jennifer Helliwell and Carole Miles. 

Events were filmed by Andy Eathorne and edited by Andrew Rushton.

Orange Prize short-listed author Kathy Page, whose own work has been described as "dark, disturbing and delicious", tempted a band of mostly novice writers to enter the lives and homes of real-life characters from their pasts. In March 2010 she came to England from canada to take part in a week long residency at Sudborough Green Lodge Cottages and gave a reading at The Old Water Tower in Brigstock. Kathy read from three different pieces of work, a short story which had been commissioned by the BBC, an excerpt from her novel due for publication in Canada in April 2010 and from work written whilst in Residence at Sudborough Green Lodge cottages during the project. Both the readings and the Q & A session afterwards demonstrated many of the invisible threads that had been drawn together during the project. 

Tasmanian-based textile artist Tara Badcock hand-crafted a unique collection of tea-towels - using embroidery, ink and stamps, vintage fabrics and antique crocheted lace to create gorgeous portraits of the fearless, inventive and determined women from her own family history. Carole Miles first came across Tara´s work in an Australian textile magazine picked up in a charity shop in Kettering. Tara herself has discovered that members of her own family are originally from Kettering – Charles Dix ran Dix & Sons Ltd, Goodyear Engineering Works in Havelok St.   

Exhibition – An Exhibition / Installation of the work produced was shown at Sudborough Green Lodge Cottages in Fermyn Woods between march 6th an 15th 2010 and received 146 visitors. Visitors were ble to hear some of the stories written by participants, read some of the histories of lives explored, as well as see photographs of the faces and places connected with the project.
The work was installed by Lisa Wilkinson, Maureen Walvin, Lorraine Dziarkowska, Michael Miles, Andrew Rushton, Emma Davies, Carole Miles and Kathy Page. The exhibition was invigilated by Carole Miles, Andrew Rushton, Pam Harrison, David Harrison, Sarah Stringer and Maureen Walvin. The collection was also displayed as part of ArtHouses in Leicester in 2010.
The project was supported by Northamptonshire Community Foundation, Corby Borough Council, Awards For All, Canada Council For The Arts, Fermyn Woods Contemporary Arts, The Forestry Commission and Rosalind Stoddart Independent Cultural Engineer.