top of page

Craftivism

I’m not the type of person to naturally be drawn to craftivism. Firstly, I don’t craft. I don’t have much patience and I’m known throughout my family as a ‘bodge-jobber’ because I get bored very quickly and want to quickly finish things so I can move on to the next thing.


Craftivism is intentionally slow and thoughtful. Self-appointed craftivists create one of a kind, hand made things which hold some sort of message, and then they leave them in public space to be discovered by the unsuspecting public.


An example of a craftivist campaign is the ‘We are All Smear Ready’ campaign to encourage more eligible people to go and get their smear test and to dispel myths and soothe common worries about cervical screening.

Helen Baker began crafting beautiful, tiny pairs of pants and attaching a little bit of information about smear tests to them, which she would leave in bathrooms, shop windows, anywhere which would attract attention. People became engaged in the campaign through seeing the pants out in the real world, or by seeing pictures on social media. Hundreds of people started sewing their own mini-pants to join in the campaign, with mini-pants being found all around the country.


There is a quiet anonymity about the ‘We Are all Smear Ready’ campaign which is typical of craftivism. Most of the work is done anonymously, by downloading a template for the piece you’re making, and then making it in the comfort of your own home. The piece is then left somewhere in public space, with no-one ever really knowing it was you who put it there. This anonymity has been appealing for a lot of craftivists who may feel more introverted in nature, or for whom attending a big protest in a city isn’t feesible due to caring, health or logistical responsibilities. Craftivism means being able to join in, in your own way.


There is something about the care and attention spent on creating a handmade, often beautiful piece and then putting it carefully in public space. Unlike a printed poster or banner, this is a one-of-a-kind item, and that brings with it a sense of care. Craftivists’ pieces are also totally removeable, so they aren’t causing damage to the gates or railings they may be attached to. If anything, they’re a welcome adornment and maybe there’s something to be said for putting your message across in a way people are happy to look at.


The history of craftivism is broad – the suffragettes used embroidery skills to create their famous and very beautiful ‘Votes For Women’ banners, Josiah Wedgewood created small cameos as part of the anti-slavery movement.


To date, the biggest piece of community folk art the World has ever seen is a shining example of craftivism. The AIDS memorial quilt was created by gay rights activist Cleve Jones and features 48,000 embroidered pieces, each one a personal and heartfelt tribute to the person named on the piece. Again, there is something profoundly touching about the time and energy invested in the creation of the quilt which is equally as powerful as the messages embroidered into it.


There is a selflessness about craftivism, the act of creating something and leaving it out in the world without your name on it, or without taking a selfie with it. You’re doing it because you believe in the thing you’re crafting about.


When something has clearly taken a long time to create, it means someone cares enough to do it, and when we see that care, maybe it makes us feel we should care too?


8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Visiting Commoners' Choir

I had discovered Commoners' Choir when I saw them on TV walking through the Peak District and singing about the Kinder Trespass. Immediately, I was interested in what they were doing as they were sitt

Comments


bottom of page