‘Make IT New!’, 2019
Crocheted Banner & Bag,
Recycled plastic bags, wood, cord, 100 x 70 cm and 30 x 50 x 15 cm
Aurora Sarpe is a crafter and student graphic designer. An experienced traditional crafter, specialising in
crochet. Sarpe is currently studying a Graphic Design HND at David Game College, London, where she
specialises in digital typography. In recent experimental projects in 2019, she began to explore the link
between traditional crafts and activism, ‘craftivism’, applying these principles to traditional crochet making
and plastic recycling in a series of new works, while also exploring the typographic possibilities of the
material. Sarpe notes that crochet communities are strong self-supporting groups - not only wired to
support and encourage each other, ‘we upload and share images of the work, get feedback, find inspiration
or even learn new patterns and techniques’, but also to look outward to support the greater community through charitable works like helping homeless people with a crocheted rugs, crocheting for the ill in hospitals or for charity. They are natural activists.
Crocheting is a technique for making textile materials using a long metal tool with a bend at the tip, the art of crocheting offers the possibility to use a wide range of chain link joints, this technical procedure resulting in a great variety of effects. The notion of community and its set of links, all dependent and gaining strength from the one before and after, built into the very weave and structure of crochet.
In these experimental pieces Sarpe wanted to explore the benefits of recycling, the evasion of the process of decomposition, where items are permanently lost to the community, by remaking the plastic (bags in this case) and putting them back into circulation, giving them a new value, possibility and practical use: wanting to demonstrate to every viewer that behind recycling ideals lie not just aspirations, and exhortations, but solid practical ideas, which are beneficial to communities.
While passing though the many stages of making this piece, unthinkingly remaking it at one point to make it straighter - to conform to machine or factory based standards of production - Sarpe had a moment of revelation: ‘remaking it, I was, I realised, 'Making it New!’’. Sarpe was reminded of Ezra Pound’s (1885– 1972) Modernist imperative from his 1934 collection of essays 'Make it New!’. HIs exhortation was to innovation, to take the Old, what is valuable from the culture of the past, (or present), and make it fresh, give it ‘New’ness. While Pound’s poetry remakes words through translation, imitation, allusion and quotation, Sarpe does the same with materials and their re-purposing.
‘The artist must break with the formal and contextual standards of their contemporaries in making works fundamentally individual. These ‘new’ modern works cannot be wholly autonomous, however, as they must consider the aesthetics of the past in the context of the present moment.’ Eric Matthew Bledsoe, ‘Make it New!’ (2016)
Hovering between poster, blanket, banner, the lumpy typography, like the rest of the wonky crocheted piece, evading the expected machine crisp digital rendering, becomes something softer and kinder in its exhortation, while still amplifying her activist message. It exhorts us to action, to reflection, to comfort, to kindness, to interdependence, to community...
Social Media: @anasarpe