Transition Stroud

This is a shared history blog. Together we can write the history of our process of transition as it happens.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Make do and mend

It is fascinating how climate change is seeping into all areas of life. This year's annual Textiles Festival included both a special day on the Transition textiles group and an art installation called Make do and Mend by Studio Seven, a group of textile artists based in Stroud. Here is what they say about it:

Inspired by the local textile heritage of the Stroud Valleys area, Make Do & Mend focuses on the themes of weavers and weaving, woollen mills, the use of the Stroud Scarlet cloth for military uniforms, women working in industry during wartime, and the ethos of 'make do and mend'. These thematic threads are brought together by the seven artists into a unified world of images and ideas which the audience is invited to explore.

The exhibition is a celebration of female skills - those of our mothers' generation and those of the present-day artists, who do not need to use them practically but are keeping them alive. My new resolution is to 'patch with pride' - making the mends to my own clothes obvious and artistic rather than trying to hide them for the shame of not having enough money to buy new.

The ability to mend is something to be proud of, as this quotation from an 1934 Encyclopedia of Needlework I found at the exhibition tells us:

The best method of repairing damage caused by the wear and tear of use or accident is an art quite as valuable as that of skilfully fashioning new articles

The Textiles Festival also features this poem by Jane Weir:

1914, Working with Red in a Field Hospital, Belgium

Back in the workshop I look
for any kind of flux, discrepancy,
or break from the uniform,
when dyeing wild madder with gromwell,
or common sorrel with bedstraw - but not here.

The men lie, abstract shapes and sizes
angled and shattered in beds
a fraction between types and ages.
Without exception all dye red,
grimy sheets, make do blankets.

I notice little variation in shade
or depth of shade, or length of spread or seep,
or smear or splatter;
where the bandage unravels,
or the flesh stitches bloom and split.

Take this boy - he won't mind me showing you -
His wound replicates early nineteenth century anilines -
look closely at this right buttock,
see mauve going green, going flinch black -
no amount of handiwork can stop
the corruption that imprints flesh -
there are no mordants for miles around.


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