Just as with Tuesday’s, today’s blog post was inspired by a designer I’m following and a coming-up event. The other day I talked about Hannah Gower and her imminent presentation of her Don’t Be Tight collection at Leeds Graduate fashion show. Then yesterday I read a facebook post by Bridget Harvey which sparked my interested, as it’s about a very Slow practice, that seems to be really gaining momentum as of late. It’s about the Repair/Mending revolution.
Harvey is an environmentally conscious designer-maker with a strong interest in Slow design, using plant-based, biodegradable and recyclable materials. As part of the JMB Collective, she will be running a DIY Store, a collaborative and participative make-and-mend space where donated objects of all sorts will be repaired, and then be made available for purchase – a purchase paid for not by money, but by an exchange of mending materials or objects, labour or a mending skill. This sounds like a fantastic idea in itself, reminiscent of the Amsterdam Repair Cafe’ that’s recently enjoyed great press coverage, including by The New York Times.
And it sounds even better when put into context: The DIY Store will in fact be running during Mend*rs, a Mending Research Symposium at Docker in South Cumbria, the first ever large-scale gathering dedicated to mending in the UK, to take place June 29 – July 2. Their intent sounds hopeful and absolutely inspirational: “MEND*RS is an activist project to promote practices and discourses of mending within and beyond the academic establishment. Its aim is to maximise the social impact of mending research and to reinvigorate mending cultures in everyday life. MEND*RS’ aim is to build a mending network to unite practitioners of a marginal, disparate, often domestic activity with designers, craftspeople, small businesses, social enterprises, environmental and social wellbeing groups, local residents and researchers operating across diverse disciplines. The level of enthusiasm for MEND*RS to date shows that, although largely invisible in academic discourse and contemporary culture, mending resonates strongly as a relevant, timely and necessary practice.” While the programme sounds as engaging as it will be fun: a conference over two days, with invited keynotes and talks selected from submitted expressions of interests under the symposium’s themes + an exhibition/performances/film screenings/new artwork/activist interventions related to mending + workshop sessions to share skills and explore practices of mending + time for talking, walking, reflecting, cooking, mending, playing and dancing together.
Interestingly, yesterday I also came across Futuremenders, a project that goes by the exciting tag line of “a few steps away from breaking the world record for mass sock darning”. Futuremenders is the lifelong project of UK artist Jonnet Middleton, who took a pledge in 2008 to acquire no more clothes, ever. She explains: “Futuremenders is fun and deadly serious art activism. It sidesteps the traditional art world, cutting to the real business of art in an age of crisis – to futureproof our lives. It prepares us for barely imaginable but plausible futures where forgotten skills are vital for survival.The monumental scale of the Futuremenders mission is to subvert our addiction to short-term shopping by spreading the joy of making and mending together. Let’s mend life’s discarded fragments, used, loved and beautiful. Let’s give our things new lives and our lives new actions.” It’s all beautifully explained in this picture: the joy of life, happiness and self-confidence, through the art of darking socks!
P.S.: There seem to be a lot of similarities between the two projects of Mend*rs and Futuremenders, but I could find no info of an actual common organisation. However, their manifestoes are exactly the same, so I’m sure there must be some form of collaboration going on. Having myself failed to find more details, I’d be very happy if somebody who knows more wanted to explain! (please just leave a comment below)
**EDIT** Today (21st October 2012) I found this great article. ”San Francisco artist mends clothes and builds community — just by giving a darn” Love it!