What is craftivism anyway?
There is a long and inspirational history of craft being used to tackle poverty and expose social injustice; like in the 1970s and 80s, when Chilean women used arpilleras (appliqued textile artwork) to help bring down Pinochet.
For us, Craftivism is a form of ‘slow activism’, a reflective action which changes the participant as much as it does the world. It is passionate but polite, provocative but patient, drawing people to engage in discussion and debate rather than forcing it down people’s throat. Unlike some of the more traditional, extrovert forms of activism, craftivism is quietly beautiful, it is individual and it is effective.
How Craftivist Collective was born
fitted in to many groups…. Around the same time, she discovered cross stitch as a hobby and loved it! It gave her time to reflect and to be creative in a meditative way. Then something clicked and she saw how, through craft, she could engage herself and others in global issues in a non-threatening and deeply engaging way. She put her craft and activism together and became a craftivist.
Sarah later discovered the word craftivism, which was coined by Betsy Greer in 2003, but there were no groups or projects she could join. And so, with Betsy’s blessing, she started creating her own projects and documenting them on her blog, A Lonely Craftivist in August 2008. Soon she began to get quite a following.
Inspired by requests from craft lovers around the world who wanted to join her craftivism efforts, Sarah set up Craftivist Collective in 2009. She now works alongside individuals, charities, and arts institutions, among others, to address poverty and injustice, using craft as a way of engaging, challenging and encouraging people to play their part in making the world a better place.
Find out more about Sarah in her Q&A blog post.
What we do
We have thousands of members all over the world doing our craftivism projects on their own and in group ‘stitch-ins’. We create projects, products and instruction videos, and also hold workshops and talks around the country, as well as working in collaboration with other organisations.
Craftivist Collective demonstrates a valid form of activism both personally and politically that we believe should be a permanent part of the activism tool kit alongside other forms of activism. This is a growing movement of innovative, reflective campaigning, a type of ‘slow activism’ that is as much about changing individuals as it about changing the world.
In a nutshell, we believe that the world can be a better, fairer and more equal place than it is today – and that craft can help make a difference.
What we’ve done
More than 700 pieces were displayed in an exhibition in Manchester, which is now touring the UK, and the project reached more than 9 million people via the Twitter hashtag #imapiece, and 19 million via various media outlets, including 180 blogs. Visit the project website here, or read New Internationalist’s coverage of the project.
Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops: Every year during the autumn London Fashion Week in September, craftivists around the world join us to support War on Want’s ‘Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops’ campaign. We make mini fashion protest banners to leave around shopping areas, to provoke thought and action on the ugly side of fashion. This project has been so successful that we have gained not only local but international press coverage!
Secret Cinema: For a month at the end of 2012, Craftivist Collective joined Secret Cinema for their biggest project to date – creating an immersive, theatrical cinema experience linked to the film The Shawshank Redemption. They turned an old primary school in East London into a ‘prison’, with ‘prisoners’ taking part in a number of ‘performance craftivism’ events, including 22 workshops which engaged over 3,000 people. The goal was to help people understand the role of craft in prisons and how it can help improve mental health, as well as raising money for Fine Cell Work through the sale of the finished craftivism pieces. You can read our blog report on the event here.
We have also exhibited in galleries in cities including Brighton, Geneva and LA, and have worked with creative institutions such as the Tate, Southbank Centre, Hayward Gallery, British Museum, TOMS Shoes, Greenbelt Festival, and cult jewellers Tatty Devine.
And in September 2013, we are launching A Little Book of Craftivism! Published by Cicada Books & distributed by Thames & Hudson worldwide & D.A.P in the United State. this partly crowd-funded project proves just how much craftivism is touching the hearts of people who want a better, fairer, more beautiful world for everyone.
Craftivist Collective’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. We have featured in numerous magazines, blogs and even on TV, and were named by The […]
@NorthWestNosh: #craftivism encourages craftsters to engage with activism in our own quiet way. Sometimes the quieter the revolution, the louder it is heard.
@PrickYourfinga: At tonight’s #craftivist stitch-in we talked about what it must be like to be a politician, and how to activate change in our busy lives.
@Rin Simpson: My small act of craftivism will, hopefully, go some small way towards changing the world. But more importantly, it has changed me.
@storyofmum: I love the project – it’s really inspiring&creative & has really got me excited about activism again in a way I haven’t been since my teens!
@tomofholland: @Craftivists shows, inspires and facilitates craftsters to unite their individual creative powers to raise awareness of social issues.