DIY Cultures the Third


I'm currently experiencing a bit of a come-down from the weekend. Not for any chemical reasons, but because on Sunday DIY Cultures happened. It was the third DIY Cultures at Rich Mix and my third year there, but it was my first time with my own table, although I was the next door neighbour of the radiant Hanecdote. Here we are all set up:





This year was particularly frenetic, with over four thousand people attending. Unfortunately the busyness made it difficult to focus on the talks, which were on everything from arts education cuts to gender and technology. But the conversations I had with passersby, customers, and interested parties were equally as fascinating.

I spoke to the founder of an online publishing house and to a woman who hand stitches protest banners, to name but a few. And I sold out of Treasures For Your Troubles zine! I will be making it available to print-by-order online in the next few weeks.

There was a wonderful atmosphere at DIY Cultures; relaxed, and genuinely friendly, with none of the reserve one typically associates with the British. It was a summery day, and visitors had dressed accordingly; Hannah and I kept commenting to each other how gorgeous everyone looked.

I spoke to the lady presiding over Alternative Press's stall, where their project A Room of One's Own was features. AROOO, as it is abbreviated, focuses on "social housing, not social cleansing", and the effects of gentrification and "regeneration" on local working class and low income families and single parents. On the importance, which Virginia Woolf recognised, of having your own space for creativity. I will be following the project's development with interest.


A lovely woman bought my last fox brooch and immediately pinned it to her bag. We had quite a chat about the beauty of foxes.


Last but not least we met the man we referred to simply as Zine Man. He was, as you might have guessed, covered in zines; he swapped his own for ones for sale at the fair, and pinned them to his clothes and hat.


I couldn't stop smiling all day; here's to another three years of DIY Cultures. Long may it live.



I couldn't stay away for (too) long...

After a brief sojourn (well, more like six months' sabbatical!) from Blogger, I'm very glad to say I'm back for good. I have sadly missed the artistic community on here, always writing inspiring posts and ready with encouraging feedback. I will be transferring across the six months' worth of blog posts I posted on Wordpress shortly.

So, what've I been up to during my break? Well, I've left Significant Seams, started working in a tiny arts and crafts cafe, been featured in a number of zines, and just today learnt that I've been accepted to start training at the Royal School of Needlework in September.



Now that I'm back, I will attempt to post at least once a week, and catch up with all your wonderful blogs. It's good to be back!

Doing It Ourselves


Yesterday I went to support my friend and fellow founder of  Stitch Witches Collective Hanecdote at the DIY Cultures Fair at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.
I’d been to Rich Mix once before, to hear some poetry at their Jawdance open mic night, an evening that really did reflect the cultural diversity of East London, in all its myriad forms (as the Rich Mix aims to with all its programmes). I found myself back there yesterday for a celebration of “all things independent, autonomous and alternative“.
After bumping into everyone from ex-Dartington students to the founder of the Craftivist Collective, I got down to doing what I do best; stitching at a Girls Get Busy X Hanecdote embroidery workshop.
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As you can see, plenty of girls got busy creating their own version of the Girls Get Busy/feminist/Venus symbol. One guy got busy too; my boyfriend Pip made a very valiant attempt at stitching a sunshine yellow symbol.
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I think you can see from the pictures how engrossed everyone was with their DIYing. Hannah’s friend Mollie, a first time embroiderer, made this incredibly cute Venus symbol. I hope she’s proud of her newfound embroidery skills!
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As Pip and I arrived a little late to the fair, I had to finish my patch at home. Inspired by Mollie’s design, I added gold star sequins to my yellow stem stitch symbol:
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I’d love to send the patch to a fellow feminist of a crafty persuasion; if you’d like it, let me know and I’ll send it along in the post free of charge.
OOMK Zine, whose first issue features an article about my experiences of exhibiting in the E17 Art Trail, tabled at the event, and DIY Cultures was co-curated by OOMK founder Sofia Niazi.
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I bitterly regret having run out of money and so not being able to pick up a copy of Sofia’s wonderfully witty and engaging zine Talk To The Scarf, a tribute to her hijab. However, for those of you who are similarly skint, Talk To The Scarf can be seen and read in full over at Sofia’s website.
My favourite new zine I encountered at the event was one which broke free from the normal constraints of the zine format; Indestructible Energy is produced in a print run of one hundred, and is comprised both of original artworks and reproductions. For each run, one hundred copies or one hundred original artworks are produced by the contributing artists for inclusion in the zine. Indestructible Energy is not unique only in being comprised partially of original artworks; it is also an unbound zine which comes wrapped in a screenprinted cloth, lending it the flavour of an archive rather than a publication. Indestructible Energy is also a digital art zine, and some of the reproductions which comprise issue 1 are screenshots from films featured on the zine’s website.
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Shots of Indestructible Energy’s table at the fair
The idea of a zine or archive which allows people to own potentially hundreds of pieces of affordable original artwork really intrigues me, and I will certainly be contributing to issue 2. I don’t think I’ll be completing one hundred embroideries, though! (Well, maybe for issue 3!)
Pip and I stuck around for a talk on DIY Artist Communities, during which Sarah Corbett of the Craftivist Collective spoke passionately and inspirationally about the power of craft as a tool for social change, and the founder of FoodFace, an artist run space in Peckham, reminded us that you actually can’t “do it yourself”; as artists we all need to support one another and come together to make change, and share our work with the world. I am so grateful for the many people present at DIY Cultures yesterday who have accepted me and my work, and helped to share it with a wider audience. Both Hannah and myself were so inspired by what we saw and heard, and can’t wait to turn Stitch Witches zine into a print reality. Watch this space.

Afternoon Twee

I'm afraid this post is very text and image-heavy, but it's well worth a read/glance, I promise!

The past week was amazing. I honestly can't remember when I've been happier. I love my "job" (and my workmates), I've met new and very interesting people, spent plenty of time with loved ones, and I'm feeling hyper-creative (with an emphasis on the hyper!)

Saturday was a packed day - I took my cousin Emily in to Significant Seams with me, with the intention of us "holding down the fort"; perhaps fortunately, there was no fort to hold down, as Wood Street Plaza got all the foot traffic, and I didn't have any major disasters.


Emily the Entrepreneur

Slow day at work = sneaky photograph of my outfit
I had it far, far easier than my colleagues, in fact; Mark and Debs were busy demonstrating extreme knitting under a gazebo on the Plaza.






They had a captive audience of small children, but unfortunately I missed the younger knitters' efforts!

Em and I were then dismissed from our duties for the day, and after scoffing a venison sausage each and trying on dresses at Gigi's (me as potential outfits for graduation, Emily for shits and giggles - both equally dangerous, the owner is the most accomplished saleswoman I've ever met!), we proceeded to Lady V's for a cream tea.










As you can see, Lady V's is a veritable tiny, twee, chintzed-to-the-rafters paradise. It was even set off by menus bound in antique book covers and a gently tinkling toy piano track. It's well worth a visit if you're ever down Walthamstow way (it's located in Wood Street Indoor Market, as is Significant Seams). Lady V herself also hires out her bone china for films and parties. I may have to look on putting on a performance of some kind there with a few of my arty friends...

Having suitably lined our stomachs, Em and I nipped over to neighbouring Hackney to the Girls Get Busy zine festival. This was my first Girls Get Busy event, and it was absolutely fantastic. Although I was always very keen to go along to a GGB do, the main purpose of my visit was to meet the artist Hannah Hill, who I wrote about in my previous blog post.

With Girls Get Busy's founder, Beth Siveyer, and Hannah. I was a bit tipsy and nervous and made a bit of a tit of myself in front of Beth. Ah well. (Photograph courtesy of Roxanne Werter).


Hannah and I have decided to start a collaborative project together, which will most probably take the form of a zine. And that's all I'm willing to betray about the matter at the mo!

I picked up one of Hannah's cute-as-a-barrel-of-puppies Girls Get Busy t shirts, and a handful of zines. Here's my swag:


Photograph courtesy of Hannah Hill


It was so inspiring talking to the girls at the event; young women truly doing it for themselves, making things happen, and reaching out to (and supporting) one another. Definitely something I would love to get involved with, and will be going along to again in the future.

Yesterday was more family-orientated. I took Emily and family along to the newly re-opened William Morris Gallery, where Grayson Perry's Walthamstow Tapestry is currently being exhibited. It's so much bigger and richer in detail than I ever expected. I love Perry's subtle but biting sense of humour, and the busy-ness of his work.

Unfortunately I forgot to take along a camera, but I'm sure I'll be back soon. Fingers and toes crossed, Significant Seams will soon be working on a project in conjunction with the gallery, and crossed even harder, possibly I will too...

The rest of yesterday was dedicated to chatting, eating, drinking, making merry, and sewing, all taking place in our back garden. A large contingent of the Rolison (well, Swift; my mother's side) extended family was present, all having a jolly good time.

Some of my younger, more distant cousins became acquainted with my final university piece, On Being Soft:



The award for Cutest Moment of the Day goes to my little cousin Louis, who fell asleep wrapped up in the picnic blanket next to our dog, Rosie. She kept edging closer and closer to him for comfort!


And the award for Least Sociable Cousin goes to... me! For sewing/blogging/working through the entire gathering.


I'll post the fruits of my stitchy labour up soon. Until then,

Take care

K x






The Girly Gang

The other night, while idly surfing Tumblr (yes, I have one of those now too... my social networking problem really is blossoming), I had the most wonderful surprise; I came across a young artist who has utterly inspired me.

Clitoris Patch on Flickr.



Hannah Hill is a seventeen year old textile artist and illustrator from North London. Most of her artwork deals with feminism and female experiences.

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There's often a wonderfully biting sense of humour to her work, but it's also shot through with a tender, naive vulnerability.

Textiles Worshipping Cult on Flickr.
(I reeeeally want this one on a t-shirt)





Hannah's style reminds me of another, older favourite: Scarlett Barry.

Scarlett seems to have dropped off the (online) radar for the moment  (and I do miss seeing her breathtaking work), but she was a major inspiration for me, particularly when I first turned my hand to cross stitching.



I was particularly drawn to Scarlett's immediate, honest, and simple style.

This is reflected in her drawn work, with its clean yet overlapping lines, often in brown gel pen:


She also cannily uses found objects in her work, in a way which seems almost natural:

Did I mention that she's also gorgeous and a brilliant writer? You can check out Scarlett's highly original art here.
Another fem(me)ale artist whose work I first came across on the online community Livejournal is Jenee Larson.

Jennee's work perfectly straddles (ooh-er) the line between twee and erotic art. And if you don't believe that's possible, check out her Flickr photostream.

Personally I prefer her earlier work to her current haunting (or haunted?) portraits of saucer-eyed femmes fatales, but she is certainly a dab hand with glitter! 

baby moon by meme

Jenee's work is whimsical and strange, as proved by her series of weeping and love-making unicorn-people(not both at the same time, hopefully!)

artosity:

I can dig it

hey i drew this! too bad it didn’t have a credit :(

Around the same time I discovered the work of Scarlett and Jenee, I was sucked into the whimsical world of Joanna "Bunny Mitford". Joanna is another artist of this generation who has completely dropped off the face of the internet, but she always was a mysterious girl, and I imagine this was a carefully concerted part of her charm. The small glimpses of her life that she gave us led me to believe she was as magical as the girls in the children's stories which she used in her art.




Her photography and sense of light was warm as twilight.

Just like Scarlett Barry, Joanna's writing was captivating, perhaps even more so.

She loved the arts, music, paints, nature. Hans Christian Anderson, Van Gogh, Tchaikovsky. They were her favourites. She loved Tchaikovsky because he made his sadness into warmth, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Symphony No.6. She loved Vincent because she felt his loneliness in his paintings. But she couldn’t look at his sunflowers for too long, the yellows stung her eyes. Feeling too much Feeling is too much sometimes. She told me how she thought it was weird you know, that all these people who created such beautiful things were so sad. How sometimes the sadness was so strong that they ended their own lives. Their last work of art.
She said she thought that most geniuses were lonely. I said I thought everyone was lonely. That even the Moon is lonely, and that’s why it pulls on the tides.

I miss her, much like you might miss a friend you've lost contact with over the years. Which is strange, because I never really knew her. 

The final member of "the girly gang" is a bit of a departure from the others.

Chelsea Dirck, at the tender age of 22 or 23, is a veteran of the American punk scene. Her zines, scribblings, type-writings,textile art, and illustrations are a  visual diary of a life lived state-hopping, missing friends and loved ones, listening to music, and having her heart broken.







I've bought quite a bit of Chelsea's work and I urge you to do the same. She's a lovely person and very generous; you may find a little  extra gift or hand-written note in your package.

Why have I introduced all these ladies to you? Because I hope their art will inspire you the way it inspired (and continues to inspire me). All of these artists are young women at the start of their careers, but I believe that each of them is truly "one to watch".

I see these women as my contemporaries, and would be honoured if even one of them felt the same for me.