We need a new way of doing things. A new approach to fashion. And a new language that encompasses these new approaches. At yesterday’s Craft of Use event, we were encouraged to look honestly and listen carefully to the world around us as we all embarked along a corridor of thought that requires us to draw on optimism of the spirit, that runs throughout Kate Fletcher’s work.
Kicking everything off was Sabrina Mahfouz, Cape Farewell’s poet in residence, whose poem Capture, did what it said on the tin and captured perfectly and beautifully our need for remembering and the role of memory in the clothes we wear. Setting the tone for the day ahead and touching on the issues at the heart of Kate’s work, Sabrina popped-up throughout the day with a lyrical interpretation of some of the stories collected by Kate throughout her Local Wisdom project.
In her introductory lecture, Kate filled our minds with questions and ideas on the nature of fashion and on the difficulty of letting the space and conversation be dominated by fashion as a purchased object, a commodity. Garments, she emphasized, do many things, and these things happen way beyond the point of purchase. At the core of these things is an ethos of care, an understanding of the world that is pragmatic, innovative, cultured and very much alive.
She urged us to recognise how essential different approaches are, an urgent call to action in light of our crossing of three of the nine planetary boundaries. A simple change to purchasing garments with a lesser environmental or societal impact is not enough when we consume at such a rate and intensity. The sheer scale of consumption outweighs our attempts to lessen the impact on the world that these savings at first, appear to offer us. Could we, would we dare to mention the ‘L’ word? Less? Kate stressed the importance of the discussion – no matter how difficult it might be.
Ending by urging us to have courage, patience and tenacity, the tone had been set for more interesting discussion on the issues we face not just in the fashion industry but into our own lives and beyond.
The day was a whirlwind of activities all of which touched upon the issues fashion and sustainability are facing in the future.
Forum for the Future’s Jonathon Porritt, encouraged us to keep on embedding ideas of sustainability into the deeper fabric of society. And at the workshops we thought about ways to engage with the world differently through ‘Ways of Seeing’ and writing haiku and teaming up to play ‘consequences’ or ‘exquisite corpse’.
There was performance theatre curated by Mari Krappala and more poems from Sabrina – all before lunch. We were welcomed back with a panel discussion chaired by CSF’s Dilys Williams on the ‘Creative Engagement with Challenging Projects’ with the international partners of the Local Wisdom project.
Dilys facilitated a discussion about how the Local Wisdom project was interpreted by each of the international partners from which an interesting discussion on education for sustainable development ensued. Lynda Grose from California College of the Arts in San Francisco explained how Local Wisdom can be used as a tool to introduce discussions of culture into the wider sustainability debate. Katelyn Toth-Fejel from CSF/LCF; Timo Rissanen of Parsons The New School for Design in New York City; Vibeke Riisberg of Kolding Design School in Denmark; Hélèn Day Fraser from Emily Carr University, Vancouver; Holly McQuillan and Jen Whitty of Massey University, Wellington; and Jo Cramer from RMIT, Melbourne all took part in the discussion. We will report in more detail on the partners, their and this discussion soon.
After the partners had discussed how the project had impacted their work and student work in their various institutions, we heard from Delijana Iossifova about a fascinating architecture project called Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment (SCIBE), which highlighted the cross-disciplinary nature of many of the issues not least the loss of real people at the heart of processes and systems.