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Telling Stories Through Tailoring

2nd Tachwedd 2020

Patrick Joseph, Creator, Mask Makers

Face masks became the unforeseen clothing choice of 2020.

So, when North Wales-based tailor-to-the-stars Patrick Joseph, like so many others, saw his business of bespoke clothing coming to an abrupt halt, he was quick to adapt. After seeing multiple news reports on mask shortages and defects, Patrick began engineering one of his own in his Ruthin Craft Centre studio, before getting it swiftly medically approved by The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in the Wirral.

Evolving from his 2016 National Lottery Arts Council Wales funded project ‘Telling a Story Through Tailoring’, Patrick created the Mask Makers in April, a group comprised of friends and local volunteers looking to both learn how to sew and help frontline workers in need. The following month they were fully operational and sending out their first batch.

Aside from the protection the masks offer, nurses, doctors and patients have benefited from the cheerful designs, colourful fabric choices and uplifting hidden messages written inside that are visible only to the mask wearer. Donated to various hospitals, care homes and special needs teachers, the masks have been crafted by a nationally diverse, inclusive group that ranges from seven to 86.

“It really has been brilliant,” declares the 55-year-old artisan tailor who has worked with the likes of Cheryl Cole, Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams. “As an artist, to be able to swing quickly to something that has a need was excellent. Putting messages or some sort of narrative onto garments has always been an interest of mine. I adapted the essence of my previous project because I felt that’s where the need for tailoring is right now.”

Masks will continue to be donated and local community-based workshops around mask-making, in addition to an installation and exhibition, are set to follow. The organisation is just one of many just causes who benefit from the £30 million raised by National Lottery players each week and Patrick admits he doesn’t know where he’d be without the support: “The National Lottery has been the banker of the arts in Wales. None of this would have happened if it was just me, myself and I doing this in isolation.”