Bridget Harvey is our current fashion resident linked to the Fashioned form Nature exhibition. Bridget began her residency in October and will be in her V&A studio until June 2019. I caught up with Bridget to hear about her plans for the residency.
What area of the collection are you interested in?
For the last few years I have been exploring repair-making and areas of design / making that relate to it. Repair is really interesting to me as a field of making that crosses all disciplines, and embodies many different ideas. A great mend may not be done carefully, beautifully or traditionally but may bring something back into use spectacularly. I am fascinated by the blurry areas between professional and amatuer, well done and botched, significant and everyday. I find repair-making to be full of exciting actions, communities and politics, changing objects, mindsets and habits. As the Fashioned from Nature resident, I will be looking at the garments and other fashion artefacts like shoes and bags in the V&A collections to understand how in the past we made, altered and repaired them. I will be remaking these ideas in contemporary textiles, creating open source instructions and tool kits for them. This will include unmaking contemporary garments and objects to understand them fully.
As an activist my practice has a strong political and environmental leaning to it. During my residency I will also look at protest-related textile artefacts such as Pussy Hats, banners and slogan tee-shirts in order to understand more about the relationship between textiles and protest, and how textiles are deliberately and incidentally used for resistance and political identity.
Tell me about your practice?
I am interested in process, and work in a multi-disciplinary way. As such I don’t have one specific material I work with or outcome I produce. However, I am specifically interested in hands-on making, everyday objects and practices (almost culturally insignificant), conceptual ideas explored through making and curating. Many of my previous projects looking at repetitiveness, slowness, and playfulness in making. I materially explore narrative patinas – use, emotional engagement and need – and hand-work discarded domestic objects and materials into suggestive one-off or small-batch artefacts, using various making and conservation methods. Taking a broad and playful approach I consider wearing my works, protesting, exhibiting, curating, facilitating workshops, researching, writing, and giving talks as vital as the making itself.
Repair, once household practice, then chore outmoded by increased consumption, is now in a third wave. It is becoming seen as a political and environmental choice, and increasingly as innovative and exciting creative space to work in. Repair-making before and after breakage – while designing/making and while owning – has been my focus since 2012. I believe clothing repair to be a route to personal empowerment – offering choice against pressure to buy new and a political stance against overconsumption and supply chain slavery. During my residency I will host drop in workshops and open studios to continue the social as well as the material elements of my practice.
What work/education experience do you have?
I am in the process of completing a practice-based PhD called Repair-Making: Craft, Politic, Community. Aside from my own studio practice I am also a freelance Associate Lecturer working across various universities. I believe in learning through doing, and am passionate about community engagement and alternative pedagogies. As such I have run hands-on workshops on repair-making, developing creative projects, making challenges and design activism. I also co-organise Hackney Fixers, a voluntary group running repair workshops in community centres in east London where participant possessions are repaired with skilled volunteers.