Sheep and Wolves
I was looking at the Gaping Void's shiny new site and noticed his drawing of the Wolf, with the text rendering the idea; think carefully before you decide to be a sheep or a wolf – you can never be lonely as a sheep but you can (stick your head above the parapet) and be a very lonely wolf.
And as a reflection of this hashtag month was prompted, by it has to be said those real stalwarts of the event, Jennifer and William, this particular cartoon came to mind.
I did email Mr Void (MacCloud) to ask if ok to use the image, but hopefully this will suffice.
All through the last months to-ings and fro-ings I had noticed the lack of lonely stances. Yes, people agreed to disagree but I believed this was a good thing because it represented, for me, a more rounded debate that was neither sheep led nor had lonely wolves on the peripheries. If anything the debate itself was sticking its head above the parapet inviting disparate sections of the art market and art world to engage.
At first glance as the project’s early discussions streamed from the blog I picked up on the energy that was coming over (and remember thinking woah! better get up to speed!). So with eyelids sometimes drooping (the UK/US clock thing) I determinedly boarded the train that was to become hashtag class.
This evolved into a rich, sometimes strident, sometimes resolute, but more often than not insightful rapport into the investment of the future of art. It was definitely more than the sum of its parts. And with those kinds of maths, exponential may well be a word to describe the (inevitable) growth of what seems to be a fresh approach to thinking and doing the business of art.
I’m up for it.
First off for me; thinking of ways locally and through local art groups, schools and social media to bring people to the table with this (and ongoing?) #class project(s) as a central reference point. To try and expel, or at least discuss the mind set of us and them.
But I also had a reflection of my own from an experience a few years ago when an ongoing discussion group was set up at the Design and Textile Museum (London) to address organic and fair trade cotton products and the fashion industry as a whole. Though not the same as the hashtag class maybe has some sort of relevance.
Apart from the bigwig designers and groups for and against (action for this, and action for that), one of the groups that became most involved were the fashion education people (and surprisingly, Central St Martin’s and London College of Art who, I thought at the time wouldn’t want to rock their high ranking safe-status by projecting ethically sound students onto a reluctant industry).
But they found that area ripe for their students who, on leaving college would find, with the best will in the world, the practicalities of setting up with this kind of ethos in mind almost impossible as the infrastructure; lack of factories producing, and guarantees of the process from beginning to end being totally organic and fair trade was just not there.
The designers who got involved in that project were Katherine Hamnett (who had sold off her existing business, bought and set up a farm and factory in India to guarantee the process from beginning to end) and Roland Mouret, who hadn’t : ) and all credit to him for engaging on that basis alone.
But more than anything it was so good how the fashion colleges really took to the debate.
Here’s an extract from the ecologist magazine in 2008
The future of fashion lies in the hands of the next generation of industry players: fashion and textiles students. Increasingly, undergrad and postgrad courses across the board, from Textiles Design to Retail Buying to Fashion Marketing, are tackling ethical and environmental issues, and more students are incorporating these into their work.
Fashioning an Ethical Industry (FEI), a Labour Behind the Label project, has compiled a database of eco/ethical elements in fashion courses in the UK: visit https://fashioninganethicalindustry.org/ethicalcourses
Courses with ethics and sustainability at their core:
• MA Design for Textile Futures , Central Saint Martins
• BA (Textiles) Design & Technology Management, University of Leeds
• MA Ethical Fashion, University College for the Creative Arts (Epsom)
• The Textile Environment Design (TED) project, Chelsea College of
Art and Design. A collective of eco-principled designers/educators.
• New: MA Fashion and Environment, London College of Fashion
(will be proposed for validation in 2008)
• London College of Fashion is founding the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), scheduled to launch in April 2008, to promote sustainability across the entire fashion sector supply chain.
A non for profit organisation originally focused in London, this debate has been taken around the UK with European Union backing.
Its fashion; no it’s not the same as art, and it has as a fairly substantially backed but fledgling not for profit organisation had to well and truly stick its head above the parapet in the face of a very defensive fashion industry – equally defensive with the recession.
But the idea, that an idea or change in mind set can be agreed and reached through debates, shows I think, that the old guard force feeding of ideas and ideologies doesn’t necessarily have to be.
Art needs to make friends;
Show an idea to work while including people (no mean feat!), debate it and the rest will follow.