15 Sep Everyone wanted to stroke & hug our wellbeing soft sculpture bunting words made for decoration!
I love my job! In June I was asked by Now Events Live Founder Jana Stefanovska if I would “decorate Deptford Lounge as part of the Anxiety Festival” where they were a partner. We also were booked to deliver a craftivism footprint workshop at the Deptford Lounge as part of the programme of activities throughout the festival. I often get asked why I came up with particular ideas for craftivism projects. Here is a little peak into my brain about why and how I made wellbeing soft sculpture bunting (it fits in pretty well with our current #wellmaking project we would love you to get involved in)
A bit of background on who I was working with:
Anxiety 2014 was a new London-wide arts festival, curated by the Mental Health Foundation and took place throughout June. The festival explored anxiety, looking at its causes, how it affects all of our lives, and how it can act as a creative force. It brought together leading and emerging artists to address anxiety from different angles: from medical, social and historical perspectives to individual, collective and contemporary viewpoints. It presented a dynamic programme of visual art, film, performance, music, dance, theatre and talks spanning venues across London, including leading arts organisations, universities, health care institutions and community centres.
Now Events Live is a wonderful organisation that create events that champion unique ways of being in the moment and enjoying what it brings. They offer an innovative blend of arts and wellbeing activities for all ages, from debates, talks and workshops to participatory installations and shared spaces. They provide opportunities to play and party, and also to reflect and be still. So it seemed like a perfect fit for us.
Like all of our work I am determined not to create work that ends up in a landfill or cannot be reused, recycled or upcycled so that was always part of my private brief. Plus I always try and use recycled fabrics where I can, donated fabrics or scraps others might not use. I’ve gotten to know Jana, the Founder of Now Live Events over the last few months and I knew we were going to be working at Wilderness Festival together too and she always has other events so I suggested I make resources that could be used at other events too which she was excited about. She was also happy for me to borrow the decorations too if she wasn’t using them at certain times which was great to know (did you spot some of them in our #wellmaking launch party photographs?).
Anxiety forms in different ways for everyone and expressed in different ways too so I wanted to make sure no one felt overwhelmed or misrepresented with the decorations around them. I also wanted our craftivism pieces to provoke thought and discussion about the world, everyone’s wellbeing, the wellbeing of our planet and society and not just our own world. See our current project: Craftivists Garden #wellmaking for more info on wellbeing and flourishing as individuals)
Design decisions & execution:
I decided to create words for people to reflect on before, during and after their different workshops to keep them focused and present. Based loosely on the NEF 5 ways of wellbeing I picked 6 elements to make into separate bunting pieces with the hope it might spark of thought and discussion. I decided to do the lettering very rounded, lower case & not too large so it wasn’t too in-your-face or shouty (you know like when your parents used to send you a text ALL IN CAPITALS and sounds like she is shouting down the phone at you?! Maybe that’s just me being over sensitive?:s). I used colours that were hopeful like yellow and calming like green as well as kitch patterns that again were not to demanding of attention but still stood out in the Deptford Lounge. I decided to stuff the lettering (even though that quadrupled the time it took to make!) so it made the venue feel safe, comfortable and cosy to everyone. They were not fully stuffed because I wanted them to still look delicate and unassuming, even a little vulnerable. For a similar reason I decided to blanket stitch around each letter with embroidery thread to make it look more handmade than machine made (it was both). I have to admit it took me days and days to finish off all the letters (on the way to meetings, travelling around the country and during late nights) but I always believe that people connect more with items that have had time spend on them than items that have been made in 3 minutes by a machine.
The Bunting messages you can see on the photographs are:
- Connect – connecting to your senses, connecting to other people and the planet and our impact we have.
- Learn – always keep learning especially learn how to help not harm others, keep empathising, keep understanding how our actions affect others and if we don’t know the answer, ask and find out. Understand what makes us tick and how we can be our best selves to be useful on this planet using our gifts and passions.
- Be Active – not just to get our endorphins up (even though that is so so important!) but also to help the wellbeing of our communities, to remind us that we can achieve things and we are powerful. Help us stay strong to keep fighting for a better world for us and everyone.
- Reflect – stop, slow down and reflect on what we are doing, feeling, thinking and why. Do we need to be more mindful and intentional in what we do to help ourselves and have a positive impact on others too. Sometimes we can go on auto-pilot and forget that other people exist too.
- Hope – don’t make despair convincing, have a vision for a better world and a plan on how to get to that vision and believe that we can reach it.
- Breathe – don’t forget to breathe properly, to check we are focused, rested and present too.
Jana wrote: “Craftivism Collective is an incredible organisation with an amazing founder that aims to change the world through craft. NOW really resonated with the ethos and found that Sarah (the founder’s) approach to craft was something we really understood from the point of view of the ability of craft to focus you on the present moment. Sarah approached the workshop with incredible enthusiasm and the participants said they left feeling a sense of calm and presence having taken part in craft activities from a new angle while also discussing thought-provoking topics. The hand-stitched bunting created for the week-long festival at Deptford Lounge was absolutely beautiful and really fit the space, creating a theme focus for the week” = Pretty good aye!?;p
Since then I’ve used the bunting events and received great feedback where people went straight up to touch the letters, stroke them (!) and they’ve created great discussions on what it means to be well and live intentionally in this life of ours so we help not harm others were possible. Not only that but whilst I was making the bunting I was sharing photographs on our Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts and feedback was lovely: People where guessing what words I was stitching that would link to anxiety and I had some great chats with people on buses and other places were people spotted me frantically blanket stitching these little soft sculptures.
We are a social enterprise providing craftivism products and services for individuals and organisations to learn how to use craft to change the world for the better one stitch at a time. We hope you like our post, maybe you would like to share the images with friends who might like them and might encourage them in their wellbeing as a global citizen on this planet x