A Voice for Change

Image designed by Adam Hayes

Image designed by Adam Hayes

In her text introducing the exhibition Voice for Change. Locations, identities and practices that speak for nature and humanity, Dilys Williams writes: ‘Climate change changes everything, yet outmoded perspectives pervade many of fashion’s artistic and business practices’.

We have asked the UAL students and alumni who are part of the exhibition to respond to this statement by sending their thoughts, quotes, poems or any written or visual material that would represent who there are and where they stand. Here we are sharing some of their voices.

Anja Crabb: In the anthropocene we are witnessing and experiencing the consequences of systems, products and behaviours which were created in a world of domination, man vs. nature. For designers the opportunity now arises not only to rethink the garments themselves but also the systems around them and the associated behaviours. In this world we acknowledge our place within nature, listen and learn.

Anja Crabb studied MA Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion (2011).

Gareth Mitchell:
Our breath, the legacy we leave, the lungs of the body of the land and of buckling cities.
It floods plundered oceans and swells arid desert,
Whilst day-glow, furrowed skies ape beauty in poisoned, caustic daubs.
Migrating flocks lose atavistic paths; they circle lost, now screaming.

Gareth Mitchell studied MA Sound Arts at London College of Communication (2014).

Majestic Disorder: Our planet is rapidly changing in ways that are difficult to comprehend. Turning a blind and remaining in denial only increases the severity of humankind’s probability of an inhabitable planet. Now is the time to begin creating sustainable developments for future generations.

Sean Stillmaker studied MA Journalism at London College of Communication (2014). Kelley Mullarkey is currently studying BA Fashion Journalism at London College of Fashion (2015). Read more about Majestic Disorder here.

Mariana Gomes de Negreiros: “[f]orms of activism are also an attempt to disrupt existing paradigms of shared meaning, values and purpose to replace them with new ones” (Fuad-Luke, 2009).

It has been well documented how the fashion prevailing engineer affects the climate due to its pollutant emissions and costly demands on natural resources. Such problematic situation is being addressed for those who share a common concern; however no disruption in the prevailing system has occurred yet since irresponsible fashion is still the prevailing normative modus operandi.

My practice as a designer borrows from the Design Activism ideas and is aimed for contributing for a paradigm shift that appears to be waiting to happen; a break through in the unsustainable from the sustainable system. Although my contribution can only be considered, from the most optimistic point of view as a gentle nudge, it reflects my attempts to re-negotiate how a garments is perceived through counter-narratives, as the pieces I make do not convey the normal aesthetics of a garment (e.g. tape replacing seams, mending and topstitching, screws and magnets assembling parts of some garments, paint and gesso applied to some of the pieces). Their strangeness is intended to generate unfamiliarity, thus prompting questioning; these questions are what I envision as the ultimate outcome of this work and the agent for nurturing potential disruptions, as no anomalies could be found within a normative system without questioning it in the first place.

Mariana Gomes de Negreiros studied MA Fashion Futures at London College of Fashion (2014).

Rachel Clowes: Although climate change can’t be seen as a positive occurrence, change can be a force for good. Our response to climate change is an opportunity to examine how we consume clothing and make positive and long lasting changes to our habits of use and disposal. This is a time for clothes that adapt with us to meet our needs, that bring us joy each time they are worn, that enable us to live in the present and also to appreciate longevity.

Rachel Clowes studied MA Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion (2013).

EcoME: Climate change changes everything is a strong statement, for me I try and remember it is not the only thing that is changing around us, thousands of years ago we would have only used plant based dyes now we have thousands of dyes that are produced so that we can have many hundreds of colours at the stroke of a brush, but they link the use of dyes links straight back to the use oil, harming the natural habitats and the environment, my work aims to use dyes that have minimal impact on the environment, everything we do has an impact one way or another.

Working with dyes that have been grown locally or found growing wild can give you a great sense of place and a greater appreciation for what is around you. I don’t think we can ever go back to a time where only plant based dyes are used but they can be used a vehicle for change they can make people stop and think about how colour is produced we take it for granted that we can have any colour we want when colour is such a precious resource, its worth stopping and wondering about how we can make a difference in preserving the colour we have and the traditions that are routed with in that.

Susie Wareham studied MA Fashion Futures at London College of Fashion (2014).

The Deep Ecology Design Club: Climate change is just one of the many alarming messages that we (humans), interpret from the earth. These significant changes warrant a significant response from whoever hears the call, however it is only by directly engaging with the natural world and sensing a place’s unique needs that we can appropriately respond to the call.

Ross Le Ber-Smith is studying BA (Hons) Graphic Design Communication at Chelsea College of Arts (2017).

Tara Baoth Mooney:

In the shadow of a great mountain
We lay close
Under a great tree
Over a great secret

And the rain it fell
and soaked up all the pain
Small birds came and went
we never spoke of that again.

You told me that day
monster machines
do the job
I came back,
the air held the scent of death .

And the rain it fell
and soaked up all the pain
Small birds came and went
we never spoke of that again.

I said- you thought:
A huge death,
moaning its way through the trees.
A beautiful thing

Tara Baoth Mooney studied MA Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion (2011).

Zoe Grace Fletcher: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” Richard Buckminster Fuller, in Biomimicry in architecture, Michael Pawlyn (2011)

“Today our understanding of nature has dramatically changed. New studies indicate that the oceans, the air, the mountains, and the plants and animals that inhabit them are more vulnerable than early innovators ever imagined. But modern industries still operate according to paradigms that developed when humans had a very different sense of the world. Neither the health of natural systems, nor an awareness of their delicacy, complexity, and interconnectedness, have been part of the industrial design agenda. At its deepest foundation, the industrial infrastructure we have today is linear: it is focused on making a product and getting it to a customer quickly and cheaply without considering much else.”

Michael Braungart & William McDonough, Cradle to cradle (2009)

Zoe Grace Fletcher studied MA Fashion and the Environment at London College of Fashion (2011).

Zuzana Gombosova: “We shall need a substantially new way of thinking if humanity is to survive ” (A.Einstein)

Climate change is real and it’s not a cliche, even though the topic has become it for many. It is a powerful and significant reason to concentrate our efforts and work on and unite once again for a purpose of creating a better place of our planet.

So we should stop and think. Think differently. And then act upon it by means of whatever we are good at.

Zuzana Gombosova studied MA Textile Futures at Central Saint Martins (2014).

Voice for Change Exhibition continues until 29 March 2015. Monday to Friday 09:00-20:00 Saturday to Sunday 09:00-18:00. UAL Showroom


Here Today Here Tomorrow 20 February 2015, 2 – 4pm, UAL Showroom.
This hands-on textile workshop, run by Here Today Here Tomorrow, looks at how traditional craft can be combined with modern communication technologies to create acts of activism.

I Stood Up 24 February 2015,2 – 5pm, Houses of Parliament, Westminster
‘I Stood Up’ is a two-part event exploring what first-time voters want to tell Members of Parliament and Peers. The first part will be a making session where participants engage in the making process but also with fashion as a form of visual communication.

Following the make a Question Time style panel discussion will be held – open to the afternoon’s participants as well as members of the public to discuss their political concerns but also fashion in relation to these concerns.

Swarm – Walk&Talk 27 March 2015, 4 – 6pm, UAL Showroom
The slow rhythmic action of walking frees the mind. Talking with others, against a changing, dynamic background, sets the stage for ideas, action and change. ACE&LION proposes a Walk&Talk, the next in a series of ephemeral live sculptures.