Having previously taken part in many of the Craftivist projects, I was very happy when Craftivist Collective founder, Sarah Corbett invited me volunteer my embroidery skills and craftivist experience at the latest Tate Late event. The line-up of music, film, performance and discussion was focused on celebrating women in art. Sarah took inspiration from artist, Suzanne Lacy’s, The Crystal Quilt which is currently on display at the Tate. The artwork was created in 1987, inviting 430 women over the age of 60 to share their views on getting old, and is currently displayed as a video, quilt, documentary, sound and photographs,
“The process was consciously guided by a desire to represent diverse ethnic and social backgrounds alongside life experience and achievements, forming an active comment on the representation of older women in the media.”
Craftivist participants were invited to embroider a ‘patch of hope for 2017,’ by selecting a word that they felt we need more of in our world today and taking time to reflect on how they can bring more of it into the world as they stitched. Once they had completed their patch they were invited to pin it to themselves and in doing so be part of a walking human quilt of hope.
I began by starting on my own patch, naturally choosing the word dialogue for something that I would like to see more of in the world today. I am tired of listening to divisive debates, full of insults and meaningless statements. I would like to see space and time for us to listen deeply to one another, reflect, understand and share meaning in a non-judgemental way, so that we can create the new thinking that we so desperately need in our current global climate. Diaogue combined with creativity has the ability to engage people in issues and their own emotions and values, in an effective and transformational way.
We had over 300 hundred people pass through and create their patches over the course of the evening, and during that time I had many meaningful conversations with the people who took part. It was lovely to see such a diverse range of age and gender; I had conversations with an older American couple who had chosen to spend their last night in London at the event; the wife had recently taken part in the women’s protest march in Washington DC and the husband was a school teacher who fittingly chose the word nurture for his patch. Needless to say they had great concerns about the future of their country, but were inspired by the energy and optimism of the event. It was beautiful to see a Muslim mother and daughter embroidering in Arabic the word peace, and I greatly enjoyed assisting the daughter’s embroidery skills as she had never done any before.
It was striking to see a room full of people, engaging in conversation with friends and strangers, enjoying the relaxing and meditative activity of craft and embroidery and without a single smart phone in sight, apart from when it came to share the final outcomes on social media! The energy created was amazing, and really proves both how important it is to provide people with creative and accessible outlets to explore their current concerns about the world, and also to gently push some people to think about their words and actions in a more meaningful way. We are all at different stages in our journeys with our thinking, values, concerns and contributions to our current world, and events like this make space for everyone, at whatever point they are at. I for one am certainly feeling more hopeful for the world after taking part in the event!
If you would like to find out more about the Craftivist Collective and how you can get involved please visit their website https://craftivist-collective.com/