What Holds Us Together: The Parallel Crafts of Darning, Medicine and Literary Criticism

Sarah Stewart | December 4, 2017
Scrolling through Instagram a few months ago, I came across a video about Celia Pym, a textile artist and finalist in this year’s Women’s Hour Crafting Prize who has been spending time at the V&A darning people’s clothes. In the last 10 years, Pym has been interested in invisible but mostly visible mending – that is, rebuilding damaged fabric in a garment, restoring the warp and weft to exactly match the surrounding fabric for invisible mending, or, in the case of visible mending, choosing different colours, materials and weaves to fill the hole, making visible where the damage occurred. A kind of kintsugi for clothes. Pym notes that repair is not actually the aim, but more of a byproduct: ‘my interest is really in the opportunity, through mending, to talk to that person. I find if I ask someone if they have holes in their clothes and could we talk about them, something real gets said that really interests me about grief, or maybe about loss, or maybe just about love’ (Victoria and Albert Museum).

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