Breathing Space

In the evenings I like to have a piece of undemanding stitching that I can pick up and put down when I feel like it and that is different to any creative work I might be doing in my studio. My latest mini project is a craftivist one stitching ‘blood vessels’ and a short slogan on lung shapes. I had the idea to do a collection of these to send to local councillors to raise the issue of the illegal air quality in Ipswich.  I have an affinity with the craftivist approach to activism.

Throughout history ‘crafts’ have been perceived as a feminine activity, but it belongs alongside art often used by artists to express unique emotions. Crafts began to be used as a way of expressing messages and craftivism often has strong associations with feminism but has also become centred on ideas of environmentalism and sustainability.

Betsy Greer termed the word ‘Craftivism in 2003 and in recent years it has gained momentum and popularity. Her favourite self-created definition of the term states, “craftivism is a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper & your quest for justice more infinite“.

Last week I ‘went’ to a Zoom meeting with Stitches For Survival, a group of knitters, crocheters, stitchers and crafters from across the UK and beyond with a heart-felt plea to the COP26 climate talks to be held in Glasgow 1-12 November 2021. They are knitting, crocheting, stitching and crafting 1.5 miles of climate messages for the negotiators to remind them of the urgent need to take bold action together on climate change, and the support they have in doing so. The length of the scarf represents the 1.5 °C target in the Paris Agreement. During the conference the ‘scarf’ will displayed near the SECC conference centre where the talks are taking place. If you want to take part, knit, crochet, stitch or craft a 60x100cm green or blue section of scarf . The colourful protest will be recycled into warm blankets for refugees after the event. For more details https://stitchesforsurvival.earth )

Recently the BBC showed ‘Crativism, Making a Difference’ which I think is worth watching ( BBC Four – Craftivism: Making a Difference ). Included in the programme is Sarah Corbett who set up the global Craftivist Collective  in 2009 providing projects, tools and services to individuals and organisations wanting to learn effective craftivism. She is now one of the leading spokespeople in the craftivism movement. An interesting article in The Guardian explains more about some of Sarah Corbett’s highly successful campaigns.   A stitch in time: how craftivists found their radical voice | Activism | The Guardian

Below is a manifesto that the Craftivist Collective has created:

With the enforcement of lockdown there has been many more people have taken up crafts as a way of coping with isolation and many virtual communities have formed during the stay-at-home time. After making scrubs and scrub bags for care staff I have got involved in slow stitching groups and other craftivist projects and it has really helped to do something positive, feel part of something whilst also being relaxing.

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