IF you go down to City Screen today – or any day until December 17, come to that – you’re sure of a nice surprise.

The cinema’s exhibition space has been filled with colourful hand-stitched messages of hope – messages that many of us will surely take to heart after the stresses of the last couple of years.

‘Never give up’, says one.

'I am strong, I am enough', says another.

'Love and hope’, adds a third.

All of these messages have been hand-stitched on beautiful scraps of coloured fabric – which themselves been stitched together to make a large wall-hanging by York textile artist Natalie Needham.

The result is a glorious explosion of colour that, as you study it, forces you think about the things that are really important in life.

York Press:

The individual pieces were stitched by people around the country as part of Natalie’s ‘Stitch Away the Stigma’ campaign in support of York Carers Centre.

Holgate-based textile artist Natalie was supporting a close family member who has an alcohol addiction.

In May last year, unable to sleep properly and feeling stressed and frustrated because she ‘never felt like I had helped enough’, she began hand-stitching her thoughts onto scraps of fabric.

She found it calmed and relaxed her before going to bed.

Then she realised that, across the country, there must be countless other people like her in a similar position who might also benefit from 'stitching away' their feelings.

She launched the ‘Stitch Away the Stigma’ campaign, posting fabric packs nationwide to others affected by the addiction of a loved one.

The campaign took off on social media – and people from as far afield as Cornwall and Glasgow stitched their thoughts onto scraps of her hand-dyed fabric.

The result is the exhibition now on at City Screen.

York Press:

Visitors study some of the individual fabric pieces on show

Not all the mnessages are optimistic. 'It wasn’t my fault,' says one. 'Why am I not enough?' says another.

But, as Natalie points out, the whole point of the exercise was to allow those taking part to ‘stitch away’ their negative feelings, and as a result of that start to feel better.

Art as therapy, in other words.

Stitch Away The Stigma runs at City Screen until December 17.