Thursday, 10 May 2012

Collective Meaning

This week’s launch of Collective Spirit, the so-called ‘wood collage boat’ brought home the value of being part of something: the value of belonging.  The many contributors of treasured wooden objects who put their faith in this arts project were clearly delighted to see all of them crafted carefully together to make a whole.

We spinners, weavers, dyers and textile enthusiasts feel a similar kind of community spirit, generated by our shared interests.  But is our love of all things textural hard-wired in our brains?  Caroline Barry, writing in the May/June issue of Selvedge, explores recent research showing that while our brains enjoy pattern, order and regularity, they also crave “stimulation from unevenness within that order”, for example materials with  “more complex texture”.  We're apparently part of a community of like minds whose “detail discrimination” is highly focussed. 

We may be focussed, but happily we’re not shy of sharing our skills and materials, as were the alchemists of old.  The recent discovery of a secret-coded Ripley Scroll, by archivists at the Science Museum preparing for an exhibition of alchemical art, shows how jealously they guarded their knowledge.  Thank goodness we don’t keep our skills to ourselves: we get out there and encourage others to share the joy of fibres and textiles.  The many spinning demonstrators at Fibre-East are just the kind of generous folk I’m referring to.  They give their time to awakening other 'detail-discriminating' brains out there, re-connecting people with their creative selves, and with the fundamental satisfaction gained by making things. 

Collective endeavour and community spirit is what Fibre-East is all about, especially when it comes to the fleece-to-jumper event – taking wool from the sheep’s back to a knitted garment in as short a time as possible.  Last year’s attempt brought together Ravelry friends, spinning group members and willing volunteers like Shiela Dixon of Handspinner.  There will be another attempt at this year’s Fibre-East on Sunday July 15th – come and watch!  Or even better, show your collective spirit and join in!  It will be more intense than getting your wooden treasure included on a floating art project, but the creative buzz that’s generated will certainly compensate.  Here’s wishing you collectively a satisfying week ahead with your making.

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