Sonic Flock; Crowdsourcing, Exhibiting and Gifting Interactive Textile Birds for Wellbeing

This paper outlines the crowdsourcing, display and gifting of a “Sonic Flock” of interactive textile birds in the Outer Hebrides. The research explores how the Sonic Flock can enhance wellbeing, social connection and facilitate conversation within and between dementia-friendly communities (DFC). A range of themes - including bringing the outside in, birds and textile making were identified through conversations with care home residents, staff and families of those living in care homes in the Outer Hebrides. These themes were fed into the Sonic Flock project. Knitted and sewn birds were crowdsourced from makers throughout the UK. The resulting Sonic Flock; over 80 birds, were displayed in An Lanntair as part of Cuimhne (‘memory’ in Gaelic) exhibition. Some of the textile birds were designed and developed to play bird songs when touched. After the exhibition, the birds were gifted to island residents living in care homes throughout Lewis, Harris and Uist. They acted as social objects and conversation starters, building relationships between the researcher, staff, residents and wider DFC.