Emma Louise Rixhon (Independent researcher). A Common Thread: Crafting through Isolation

In a period defined by distance, material contact can become akin to physical intimacy. This may explain why while the world has been in varying forms of lockdown due to a global pandemic, people have turned to fabric. Acts such as knitting, sewing, and embroidery assuage the desire to touch. As people are separated by two metres, by gloves, and by masks, we are still allowed direct contact with needles and thread. More than allowed, initiatives to get people sewing their own masks and donating time to sew scrubs for the NHS have sprung all over, with tutorials and patterns disseminated through social media. I will be exploring how material crafts have brought individuals tactile intimacy during this and other historical times of isolation, drawing on ideas of touch and sewing as forming both metaphorical and literal connections. Unique to this period, however, has been the ability to display one’s creativity in an endless social media thread. Potentially, sharing one’s processes or creations online transforms the intimate nature of craft into a performative productivity. The relief created from this act is no longer one of touch and connection but of displayed production in a time where efficiency has been stilted. Using my own practice as well as interviewing creative friends and acquaintances, I will explore how these two forms of connection, with oneself and material as well as with online followers and friends, can sit together and whether they are contradictory.

Emma Louise Rixhon>>