Shwop and Sew Lab at M&S

This morning fellow PhD-er Nina and I attended the Tote bag making session for Marks and Spencer’s ‘Shwop and Sew Lab’ in Broadmead, Bristol. Neither of us had any idea of what to expect, but it was brilliant! Run as part of Bristol’s ‘Big Green Week’, the idea behind it is to get people recycling, up-cyling, and re-loving their clothes again.

When we arrived at M&S we were greeted by an array of brand new (and very swanky) Pfaff sewing machines and some exciting boxes of fabric. After the introductions, we were invited to delve through the fabric and choose the design for our bags. The fabric was actually old advertising banners which was a particularly nice idea, and they featured a whole array of different designs – including a headless David Gandy, some stylish shoes, beautiful patterns, or some hairy men’s legs! I opted for some rolled up pairs of knitted socks – I’m always a sucker for knitted things!

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Nina choosing her fabric and design

After cutting out the rectangles, our lovely tutor Delia from FloJo boutique showed us how to whip up a practical and stylish tote. It took less than an hour for each of the 6 participants to complete their project, and they all looked great. Afterwards, M&S treated us to some tea and cupcakes – because who doesn’t need re-fuelling after a sewing session?!

Tea and cakes!

I was also pretty excited to meet Alex from series three of the Sewing Bee! She works for M&S and was one of the brains behind the workshops being run over the nexttwo days. She was really lovely and gave me some fitting (and reading) advice for my ongoing issue in making sleeves fit. Hopefully it’s something I’ll get sorted out soon… In the meantime, I’m happy to keep making sleeveless garments now the weather is a bit nicer.

If anyone around Bristol is looking for something fun to do this evening or tomorrow I can definitely recommend a sewing session at M&S. They’re free, friendly and fashionable, and I really don’t think you can ask for anything more than that! Thanks for having us!

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Our finished bags!

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Bassett Lecture 2015: Professor Marcus Doel

Bassett lecture

My lovely colleague Nina has been busy organising this year’s Bassett Lecture. It looks set to be a great talk and, as usual, all are welcome to come along. Details as follows: 

The 5th annual Bassett lecture will take place in the School of Geographical Sciences on Thursday 29th January 2015.

This year’s speaker is Professor Marcus Doel from Swansea University, who will be presenting under the title, ‘Through a net darkly: spatial expression and schizoanalysis (subject to finance).’

The lecture will take place at 4pm on Thursday 29th January in the Peel Lecture Theatre.

All Welcome!

No booking required, for enquiries contact Nina Williams (Nina.Williams@bristol.ac.uk).

Abstract:
In Anti-Oedipus, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari wrote that Louis Hjelmslev’s “concerted destruction of the signifier” not only unleashed “a decoded theory of language” that was perfectly attuned to both capitalist and schizophrenic flows, but also that it was “the only modern—and not archaic—theory of language.” Hjemslev was the blast of fresh air that blew Ferdinand de Saussure and Jacques Lacan away, and ushered in a post-structuralist schizoanalysis of world-historical libidinal flows. The encounter with Hjelmslev proved pivotal for Guattari, the force of which reverberated throughout all of his subsequent writings. Hjelmslev effectively counter-signed the two volumes of Capitalism & Schizophrenia and Kafka that Guattari wrote with Deleuze, as well as Guattari’s own Machinic Unconscious, Schizoanalytic Cartographies, The Three Ecologies, and Chaosmosis. And yet, “the Danish Spinozist geologist, Hjelmslev, that dark prince descended from Hamlet,” was never the subject of sustained attention in any of these texts. In this lecture I consider the import of Hjelmslev for Guattari, with particular reference to the spatiality of the structural unconscious and the machinic unconscious, and use this as a basis to think through the bewildering cast of characters that are ‘subject to finance’ and that increasingly plague our world, such as Homo Economicus, Homo Debitor, Homo Faber, Homo Subprimicus, and Financial Homo Sacer.

The City of Briswool

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The City of Briswool is a project to knit, crochet and needlefelt a huge model representing Bristol. Led by Vicky Harrison at Paper Village Arts this project has been in the making for over twelve months and has so far involved 90 makers, 4,000 hours of work, 10 workshops and hundreds of cups of tea! When the model initially went on display in May 2014 at Paper Village it managed to attract 4,000 visitors in just 10 days. The pictures I’ve included here are from that first exhibition, which really was a fabulous sight to behold. Since May the model has continued to evolve as people work on new contributions and expand upon the existing landscape. This weekend (4th and 5th October) the model is getting its second outing – this time at M-Shed. It’s open on both days from 11-4 so do pop in and have a look!

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Over the course of the weekend a series of workshops will be running called ‘how to craft a city’. If you want to join in you need to be able to knit or crochet, just bring along size 4mm hook or needles. Workshop attendees will be:
* Making Colston Hall and The Old Duke pub as a group
* Helping to sew together Queens Square, King Street, and Park Street
* Able to join groups such as Briswool makes Easton
* Assisted with identifying and designing their own contributions to the model

The photos here are just a taster of what will be in store, expect new contributions and a bigger city in a bigger space at M-Shed!

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Prof. Tim Ingold – Bassett Lecture, Bristol 30/1/14 4pm

A little more blatant advertising for an event I’ve been involved with organising….

The School of Geographical Sciences at the University of Bristol is proud to host the 2014 Bassett lecture. This year’s presenter is Professor Tim Ingold from the University of Aberdeen.

Prof. Ingold will present under the title ‘Making and Growing, Doing and Undergoing’

Thursday 30th January, 4pm, Peel Lecture Theatre, School of Geographical Sciences (BS8 1SS)

All welcome!

Abstract:
To make, we commonly think, is to implement a design that has already come within reach of the imagination; to do is to carry out the operations that such implementation requires. If making puts the emphasis on the final product, doing emphasises the performances that lead to it. Growing, on the other hand, is what happens to things – it is what they undergo. Where making and doing are active and intentional, growing and undergoing are passive and biophysical. In this lecture I question these distinctions, and aim to establish a sense of making-as-growing, and of doing-as-undergoing: a kind of action without agency that is characteristic of lives that are not just lived but led. Such lives are human.

Biography:
Tim Ingold is a Professor of Anthropology in the School of Social Science at the University of Aberdeen. His interests include environmental perception, language, technology and skilled practice, art and architecture, creativity, theories of evolution in anthropology, human-animal relations, and ecological approaches in anthropology. Recent books include ‘Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture’ (Routledge, 2013), ‘Biosocial Becomings: Integrating Social and Biological Anthropology’ (co-edited, CUP, 2013), and ‘Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description’ (Routledge, 2013).

The Bassett Lecture:
The Bassett Lecture is held every year in honour of Dr. Keith Bassett, a critical geographer and long-time Senior Lecturer in the School of Geographical Sciences. Although formally retired, Dr. Bassett continues to write, teach, and contribute to the intellectual life of the School and University. The lecture series recognizes Dr. Bassett’s work and contributions in the fields of social and geographical theory, critical geographies of political economy, urbanism, social movements and social justice, political ecology, and critical socio-legal studies. Prof. Ingold’s lecture will be the fourth in the series. The 2012 Bassett Lecture was presented by Prof. Erik Swyngedouw (Manchester), whilst in 2011 the School welcomed Prof. Melissa Wright (Penn State).

Crafting: Materials, Ecologies, Economies

tfThinking Futures is a week-long Festival to share and celebrate research from the University of Bristol’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Law. This year members of my research cluster (Politics and Matter) are hosting the event Crafting in collaboration with local craft practitioners. This panel event will showcase ongoing research and coproduction in the Faculty on questions of crafting, materialism, community economies, and ecologies of thought and action. Primarily the session will highlight what emerging social theoretical perspectives can offer in terms of rethinking the place and power of craft and craftwork in the contemporary world. Is the recent revival of handicrafts a romanticisation of past worlds, or does it tell us something about our contemporary condition? Can past and present practices be shown to resonate? Can craft generate new forms of community activism which allow us envisage alternative economic futures? How does an engagement with the intricacies of craft practices alter the way we understand ecologies of thought, action, and process?

In this event, three dialogues, between theory and practice, will take up these questions and form the basis for an open discussion:

CRAFT PRACTICE.

Dr Merle Patchett (Bristol University) and Peter Summers (Taxidermist) on “The Craft of Taxidermy and Re-Drawing an Ethic of Apprenticeship”

CRAFTING COMMUNITY.

Joanna Mann (Bristol University) and Vicky Harrison (Owner of Paper Village and local ‘craftivist’) on “Crafting Community”

CRAFTIVISIM.

Dr Naomi Millner (Bristol University) and Jethro Brice (Bristol-based artist) on “Craft, labour and the commons”.

Chaired by Dr Mark Jackson, the panel will consider the importance of craft and craftwork to broader questions of political, economic and social change. The audience will be encouraged to participate in thinking material futures through craft and to question the craft of experience. Conversation will roll into a wine reception, where further interactive discussion will take place, and practices will be on display.

The event will take place on Friday 8th November 6.00-7.30pm at The Kitchen, The Station, Silver Street, Bristol BS1 2AG. Tickets are free, but seats are limited. Please order yours through the eventbrite system on the Thinking Futures website.

Knitting for Gromit Unleashed

A few weeks ago I installed a very exciting yarn bomb commission for Hotel du Vin in Bristol. During July and August the city hosted 80 five foot tall Gromit sculptures (from Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit fame) as part of a giant arts trail. Locals and visitors alike were encouraged to find and admire as many Gromits as possible, by way of the free printed maps or using the dect-o-gromit phone app. Each Gromit was designed by a different artist and the variety was fantastic! We had Vincent Van Gromit, the Gromitosaurus, the Gromberry, and Isambark Kingdog Brunel to name but a few. Ultimately all the Gromit statutes will be auctioned off to raise money for the Bristol Children’s Hospital.

Early in June Hotel du Vin contacted me to say they would be hosting Katy Christianson’s Gromit and wondered if I might be able to help brighten up their courtyard to provide a cosy home for Gromit whilst he stayed in Bristol. They didn’t have to ask twice… I set about making pom-poms, bunting, stars, and dog-themed wraps to adorn the space with. And here are some of the results!

ImageCanis Major Gromit in the courtyard

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         Gromit and a big knitted bone            Dog themed wraps in the trees 🙂 

It was a really fun project to be involved in and the staff at the hotel were super friendly and excited about the prospect of hosting some yarn bombing for the summer. The knitted bone took forever to make, but I’m so happy with the results and very glad I persevered with it. Despite the flat being covered in woolly goodies I was really worried there wouldn’t be enough stuff to cover the courtyard, but I think the fears were unfounded. The courtyard looked suitably cosy without being over the top. I’ve also seen a few lovely blog posts by Gromit spotters who enjoyed the woolly additions which is great news.  My current project is another commission (remember the AXA one I did last year? They want more!) and that’s due to be installed in early October. Seems yarn bombing is still in fashion 😉