Arts Derbyshire


Necklace of stars social isolation project exhibition

“A friend of 40 years died yesterday; when I was stitching today, I thought that star is going to be you.” (Participant)

A quilt stitched with stars and an accompanying soundtrack of poems and lullabies made by older people in Derbyshire during the pandemic are now on display at Ashbourne Library in Derbyshire. A Necklace of Stars is at Ashbourne until 31 May, before travelling across the county.

A Necklace of Stars celebrates childhood and the night sky in words, song and stitches.

The project is a testimony to the power of human connection and creativity in the face of lockdowns and isolation.

A team of artists (artist Lois Blackburn, poet Philip Davenport and songwriter Matt Hill) worked with nearly 100 participants, talking for months over the phone.

“Art isn’t usually considered to be an emergency service, but during the lockdowns this was a lifeline to isolated people. Out of something terrible we managed to conjure some little glimmers of hope.” (Phil Davenport, project poet)

While the wider world became a place of fear for many older people, here embroideries, poems and songs reached up to the shared night sky as a way to escape.

“There is an aura off the stars, it’s very powerful. It draws us to it, gives us peace… Instead of taking life for granted, I’m writing, exploring it. Opening my eyes to the starlight…” (Neil, participant)

“A Necklace of Stars continues and expands the work of Arts Derbyshire and Derbyshire Libraries to engage with isolated members of the community through innovative art. We’ve developed our programme of Arts & Health work over the last 10 years, creating the Age Friendly Standards for Arts Projects; this project continues pioneering artistic excellence in Derbyshire.”

(Ann Wright, Head of Arts, Derbyshire County Council)

Oh! How I love the night sky…

Softly, it holds me…

A necklace of stars

Interspersed with dreams.

(Quilt poem, various authors)


Exhibition dates and venues:

  • Ashbourne Library: 27 th April – 31 st May 2022
  • Derby Museum of Making: 6th June – 31st August 2022
  • Erewash Museum, Ilkeston: 3rd September – 28th September 2022
  • Buxton Museum & Art Gallery: 28th September – 6th December 2022
  • Chesterfield Library: 8th December 2022 – 31st January 2023
  • Derbyshire Record Office, Matlock: From February 2023 (final dates are still to be confirmed)

Project webpage:
Download digital catalogue:

Stream songs and poems:

An Arts Derbyshire project, with Derbyshire County Council Public Health and Derbyshire Home Library Service, funded by Arts Council England.

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