In this episode, we’re talking to Celia Pym, an artist living and working in London. Working with garments that belong to individuals as well as items in museum archives, she has extensive experience with the spectrum and stories of damage, from small moth holes to larger accidents with fire. Her interests concern the evidence of damage, and how repair draws attention to the places where garments and cloth wear down and grow thin. In clothing, this is often to do with use and how the body moves. Pym was shortlisted for the Women’s Hour Craft Prize and her work has been exhibited all over the world and is held in the permanent collections of the Crafts Council UK and Noveau Musée National de Monaco.We discuss:- How working with people’s garments opens the door to learn more about them. - The importance of craft and why it should be a priority in education. - Why colour contrast is creatively interesting when considering yarn and string. - The reason mended pieces deserve to be displayed in museums. - How mending showed up in her previous careers as a teacher and a nurse. - What the future holds for mending and repair. … and more!Here are some highlights. Why Colour Contrast Matters“There are two reasons I love contrast. Number one, it's easier. You can see what you're doing, so you can see the stitch that you're making. I also have always felt that I wanted to see what was missing. So I've always sought to mend with a contrast because I want to be able to see the actual damage in a way. But the other thing that I think about a lot is that I'm following the damage. The bit that's interesting to me is the damaged bit of the garment and the mending is the work to understand that and sort of reconstruct it, so you need to be able to see that. The color is where it gets fun. I love the way that yarn is colour in your hands, it's in your fingers, like it's a physical material colour, and so when you're mending with it, it's like drawing... You're colouring in with the yarn.”Why mended pieces deserve a space in museums. “I like the shift of value that things that come from your home might be held to have value within a museum context. And this idea of a skillfulness that gets practiced at home has a place in the conversation about what craft and skill is, which is what a significant museum, a really important museum is sort of saying. It’s sort of saying ‘this has meaning in our culture, and I really do think the craft from within Home spaces does have a place in our culture.”The importance of material literacy from a young age“I also just think there's a general richness to understanding the differences [of materials]. They’re sensational. They feel different against your skin, and that's something that's full of pleasure and excitement and memory, and we’re denying our children that. It would enhance their imagination. And then as we say, from a sustainability point of view: they are the designers of the future, and they do it completely differently in ways we can't imagine. This morning, I was actually thinking, what if you had as many lessons on materials as you do on English, or Maths? What if they said: ‘this is as important, knowing where wool comes from, or how to spin it, or how it can be reused. Or knowing the whole life of one material, like wood or ceramic? You can tie in politics, history, all the rest of it, but it would be wonderful. It would be absolutely fantastic.”Connect with Celia Pym here.Follow Celia on Instagram here.About Katie TreggidenKatie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author, podcaster and keynote speaker championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine, Design Milk and Monocle24. Following research during her recent Masters at the University of Oxford, she is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and this podcast. You can find Katie on Instagram @katietreggiden.1, sign up for her e-newsletter here and if you’re a designer-maker interested in becoming more sustainable, sign up for her free Facebook Group here. If you’d like to support more fantastic content like this, you can buy Katie a ‘virtual coffee’ here in exchange for behind the scenes content and a shout-out in Season Three.
Celia Pym is an artist who has taken darning out of the domestic sphere and into galleries and museums. In this episode we chat about a career that has encompassed studying sculpture at Harvard via jobs in teaching and nursing – as well as a stint at the Royal College of Art – to being a finalist of the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize in 2018. One of the intriguing elements of Pym’s work is that she uses the process of darning and the objects that are brought to her to get to know people. As she told me in our discussion: ‘Early on I heard tons of stories about grief and I wasn’t sure if that was to do with me or the way I was asking the question… I realised it’s the damage that interested me sometimes more than the repair. I wondered if subconsciously I’d been communicating that. Instead of showing me a hole, I was saying show me the damage.’ Her story of how she started to repair her late great uncle’s jumper is genuinely emotional. You can find out more about Celia here: celiapym.comSupport the show (https://www.patreon.com/materialmatters?fan_landing=true)