2022, it wasn't so bad, and parts were really good. We are in our fourth year as a collective and our theme this year was seeking ways to work and grow sustainably. A big lesson from the pandemic (ongoing) is both to not do unnecessary work, but also to do more of what we do love and what works. We are working in a seasonal rhythm, we have been test driving alternate methods of playing with others (big love all 'round for our "work parties") and with each other (shared support and encouraging rest) We were able to grow as a collective, making connections to new community (institutional) partners as well as connect with, support and learn from new artists so what more can you ask for? Here are some photo highlights season to season from the year that was.
Images (from left to right, top to bottom, more or less): Dropping off goods at Double Take thrift store (310 Gerrard St. E., Toronto) during our residency, DoubleTake upcycling sweaters workshop, a still from the online workshop and WIP items on display in the window of Double Take. Second row: Workshop ad for Scraps Challenge at the Textile Museum; DT Spring residency announcement, Textile artist Alex Verkade delivering work to the residency via Tanya; Nancy Rawlinson's "Chickens of encouragement" for sale on the DT website,
third row: Repaired Right pamphlet from artist Jeanna Wigger, online fabric giveaway from Marnie Saskin, Marnie hosting online part of hybrid "Cutlery Wrap" workshop and the Do-it-Together invite for our Cutlery Wrap hybrid workshop,
fourth row: Banners at a climate action, then images from the in person part of the DiT workshop: participant with Alex and Leah, hands ironing, Kate Hamilton with Leah and Tanya outside the venue.
January to March: workshop and residencies while isolated
The year began with another wave of Covid causing lockdowns and shutdowns into January. We began our Double Take Thrift store artist residency at the end of 2021 and were very happy to be joined by more artists as the residency continued into March. Textile artist (Alex Verkade) joined us in the residency with her upcycled quilt pouches, and then applied to be artist in residence as a solo artist in in the Spring. We lead two successful workshops in January - an upcycling one (deconstructing a sweater) as part of our DT residency and the other a really fun "scraps challenge" online teach-in with the Textile Museum of Canada.
We also sought more ways to connect with makers and community partners: we connected with U.S. based textile artist and repair activist Jeanna Wigger to bring her wonderful "Repaired Right" booklet across the border. WiP artist Marnie Saskin used a fabric giveaway online as a way to demonstrate our philosophy of "there is enough" and kept their front yard "little art library" stocked with donations from neighbours in Hamilton. We loaned our bunting stash to support climate activists in Toronto, and WiP artist Tanya Murdoch used her video skills to document and share the event.
And we continued to roll with circumstances in the world, and as venues opened up to in person workshops we wanted to keep the benefits of online learning so when Kate Hamilton from Building Roots asked us to join her Do it Together series we did it with facilitators in person and online, with connections at the beginning and the end of the workshop. It was lightly attended but really rewarding and a model for workshops going forward.
Images (from left to right, top to bottom, more or less): Appletree's Ringing in the Spring post and images from the event in June Rowlands park and the neighbourhood swap, including Nancy at the Repair+reuse advice table, Mehtap Mertdogan with Tanya our Spring swap poster designed by Lara Boadway; second row: Marnie at hand cranked sewing machine, Heather and Margaret at their swap station, mosaics created at the event with Mehtap, Leah with flowers from Periwinke and Shams modelling her #mesew overalls plus (third row) wide look at event with bunting and kids doing activity in front of the garden sign we made in 2019.
fourth row: Leah drawings and Safiya/Tanya video in the Textile museum; images from our work party including Marnie Alex and Leah going through shams' fabric stash; Tanya holding up finished bunting and (below) Shams and Alex sewing at work party, bunting in process and then (ends of row 4 and 5) bunting loaned to local fun fun fair, collaboration of Safiya's wool knit into mittens by Nancy (and regifted to Safiya) plus Alex textile art in Niagara gallery (inclduing some fabric from work party) and Music for Climate Justice musician Cassie Norton playing violin.
April-June: in person play
We were really excited to time our Spring Swap to coincide with a new event started by our community partner Appletree Markets they called Ringing in the Spring, with eco/educational booths, crafts, music and food. We collaborated with local mosaic artist Mehtap Mertdogan to create mosaics with families in the park, we had a repair advice table with Marnie Saskin, Nancy Rawlinson and a textile activist and artist new to us, Shams el-Din Rogers- we brought upcycling samples and handcrank machines. We also had our neighbour-to-neighbour swap with ALL sizes at various yards around the park, and a team of teen volunteers to help support the hosts. It was exhausting but really satisfying. And being together in person built stronger bonds: Nancy and Safiya got to know each other, and Nancy took some of Safiya's hand spun yarn and knit her a beautiful set of mittens. Leah and Tanya took Shams' aunts purses, and the drama department got a new fur coat.
The event was all hands on deck, and with Tanya still exhausted post Covid, we decided to cancel the Hamilton version of the swap and just store/donate remains until the fall. we also filed the final report for our OAC grant, which had supported many educational/artistic events as a collective over the past year and a half.
We felt more comfortable meeting in person as the weather warmed up, and sought new ways of skill sharing- the "work party" was born, and the first was hosted by our new friend Shams. We did prep for swaps, especially bunting, using Shams' die cut tools. Our other new friend Alex was able to come help sew and also collect some fabric for an installation she was doing in Niagara, and between that, the bunting, Leah, the Textile Museum, Marnie, Tanya and Shams' school we found new homes for all of the fabric Shams didn't need.
We also loaned out the bunting again, to another community partner, for a fun fair at our local elementary school in Midtown Toronto, the first in two years, and built connections with the climate activist musicians we met in March by lending video support to a grant application: we hope to work together in the future.
Images (from left to right, top to bottom, more or less): The summer of bunting! Bunting onstage at Sunfest 2022; Marnie and Amy Brown hanging bunting, and Sandra Pascuzzi wearing one of Marnie's pod forms during her art deconstruction party at Christie Lake. Tanya and Marnie with bunting created at our second work party plus (second row x2) Anya Laskin and Susan Bakshi cutting and sewing bunting at our third work party and (below) Shams and Leah joined by textile artist Soledad Muñoz ; travelling bunting poster at the Textile Museum fabric sale, teen helpers Ursa and Taylor making bunting at the museum and cushion covers (made by Tanya from fabric from the Textile Museum and Creative Reuse sales) WiP artist and textile activist Shams el-Din guest on podcast above Leah's shoe repair.
Row3/4: receiving donations from Viking Recycles, Tanya and Marnie setting up at AGB, over photo of bunting stash; WiP artists Marnie, Leah, Shams and Tanya at opening of "Parallel Economies" at the AGB; happy swappers/upcycling family at the opening, image of bunting in show from opening.
June-August: free range summer and the amazing travelling bunting
This summer was all about the bunting. We were approached by curator Suzanne Carte from the Art Gallery of Burlington to take part in a group show called Parallel Economies (one of three in a wide ranging series called the Future of Work) and in preparation we hosted two more work parties making bunting, T-shirt bags and new friends, luring in some neighbourhood friends to donate unwanted fabric and try sewing machines for the first time. We also met an amazing textile artist named Soledad Muñoz through Leah's work at the Textile museum who came to share her work and take home some fabric for her project making arpilleras.
We also took things apart: Marnie has a dream of being an art death doula and she hosted an art deconstruction afternoon at Christie Lake Conservation area with artists and friends and family, taking apart paintings, upcycling drawings and wearing/repurposing old projects, as well as eating barbeque and using Leah's paddleboard on the lake.
Members of the collective worked on their own repurposing projects: making cushion covers from fabric scraps, turning boots into garden slippers, repairing sandals and (on a higher profile) Shams spread the word on sewing podcasts about her approach/motivation to reuse textiles.
We were contacted by strangers and community partners about borrowing the bunting, which went on many adventures: an eco fair in rural Ontario called "Sunfest 2022" a few birthday parties, the popular Fabric Sale at the TMC, and finally to the AGB for our show at the end of August. Local industrial recyclers Viking Recycles contacted us with a donation to our AGB swap: a car trunk full of wool rug samples.
Finally, at the end of the summer we dropped off the bunting and then spent a wonderful day running a swap/upcycle+repair+reuse station as part of the opening party for Parallel economies at the AGB.
Images left to right, top to bottom, more or less: back to school swap events: pustering, adult clothes at midtown swap; Anne and Clara at their swap site, Tanya with husband Douglas Sanderson and Trinity-St. Paul's city councilor Josh Matlow
second row, more midtown swap: Shams demonstrating repair techniques +close up, WiP thsirt bags at both church sites
third row: swap at Moss park event: Leah setting up, swap sign by Lara Boadway; bagfs at Moss park, volunteer at kids table over Mac from Building Roots holding key, happy swap shopper holding full bag
fourth row: wide of Moss park swap, Amy holding key to her shed; dying experiment from late fall and Ursa and Safiya at AGB last week of group show.
September-December 2022: Back-to-school swaps and lessons learned
Our fall energies were directed to our annual back-to-school swap season, and it was a good one. With Marnie's daughter (another WiP member) starting at OCAD she opted out of hosting a Hamilton swap, but we found the two Toronto swaps worked well together, and frankly, it was a nice Fall so two weekends seemed enough.
We had new community partners and volunteers reach out to be part of the swap, so we included adult clothes again in a big site at one end of the swap area, and a smaller site for baby clothes at the other, with local schools, councilors and trustees spreading the word. Great weather, great turnout, for both the Midtown swap and , a week later, at the Moss Park Market with our community partners Building Roots. Full swap wrap in an earlier blog post HERE.
We are grateful to have the trust and support of friends between swaps as well: Mac from Building Roots and neighbourhood friend Amy both lend us storage and trust us with their keys as well move mountains of clothing around between swaps and after.
Again, this was a big endeavor so we took a little break as Fall 2022 came on gangbusters for all members, including new rounds of respiratory infections and Covid running through schools and families in the collective. We continued art-making/ community building experiments on our own: dying with leaves, giveaways and other art making and at the end of December paid a final visit to the group show in Burlington. Looking forward to 2023.
art experiments turning waste into beauty