01 May 2010

Stitched Up

If you’ve never been to a Friday Night Late event at the V&A, make a date in the diary! They are held on the last Friday in every calendar month. My experience is they are full of energy and fantastic fun! Last night’s ‘Stitched Up’ was no exception. Organised to coincide with ‘Quilts 1700-2010’ exhibition, curated by Sue Prichard, the evening was buzzing with activity. There were 15 activity options, catering for a range of tastes. Occurring inside the building and outside in the gardens, the event ranged from an alternative garden tea party to craft activities with both emerging and established practitioners.

I began by engaging in The Stitch Surgery supported by Coats Crafts and volunteers of The Quilters’ Guild.  A fantastic little ‘how to patchwork kit’ was provided from which you were encouraged to take a seat and get making! My attempts to follow the instructions in the pack were made easier by the encouraging chatter from fellow ‘stitchers’ perched beside me in the Grand Entrance and, the 1950s jazz music being played in the background. (To give an indication of how successful the surgery event was, I understand 1000 packs had been prepared, and by 7 p.m. only 30 minutes after the evening had started, all of them were gone! By any event organiser’s standards, that’s impressive.)

Following this, I took myself off to the Lecture Theatre where ‘Domesticity and Creativity’ in craft were being re-evaluated. A round table discussion with Sue Prichard, textile artist Caren Garfen, (creator of ‘How many times to I have to repeat myself ‘ which was commissioned for the exhibition) and Janice Langley, Trustee of the Women’s Institute (WI) was the means with which this subject was aired. The focus was given to why investment in the home is a way of redressing the work/life imbalance fuelled by contemporary technology. In essence the talk asked, Is taking time out a luxury or necessity? What value does it offer?

The view and discussion of craft, at times appeared to be at odds with my recent research, which focused on understanding craft as an intellectual rather than skill based activity. However, the emphasis on learning new skills via communities to support self-sufficiency (especially in the home) and social networking is an integral aspect of the craft continuum. Indeed, the presentation by the WI who proffered their contemporary tagline (or role) as Inspiring Women was fascinating.

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