Swindells, Steve and Barber, Claire (2011) More Than Charity: Textiles in Daily Life. In: Making Futures II, September 15th – 16th, 2011, Plymouth College of Art and Design.

This paper presents a collage of encounters with people and sleeping bags in West Yorkshire, UK. The encounters begin to highlight broader and deeper phenomena of consumption and disposability of textiles in daily life and its relationship to their social highs and lows.

Barber Swindells observe (both as artists and teachers) the complexities, delights and contradictions of textile use; a recycling unit for unwanted textiles (a concern that 'recycled' textiles are destined for Tanzanian landfill), a music festival where sleeping bags and tents are commonly abandoned or burnt, and a textile art curator and students who volunteer with the Hope Centre, Bradford to recycle sleeping bags to help the homeless during the UK winter months. As artists we record, document and discuss this phenomena; in response we develop ideas in the studio and make work for the biennial. As teachers we integrate these encounters into the University curriculum, involving timetables, workshops and socially related projects. The staff, students and their family members work with the Hope Centre, crafting the sleeping bags in a variety of ways.

Barber Swindells recognize their position is multi-faceted - they are participants and observers of the situation and recognize we are all complicit to the era of disposability. The encounters also highlight complex contradictions and beautiful generosity; the students go to Leeds Music Festival and take part in buying tents, sleeping bags to possibly discard. However, the students also volunteer to recycle the sleeping bags and invest their skill, time and care into making 'crafted' interventions for each sleeping bag. The intention is to insert homeliness and individuality into each bag. We see all of this as giving something more than charity ; we are interested in the crafted gift and time spent beginning to form small acts of resistance to the dominant flow of globalised sensibilities.

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