As many of you will know, I attended the UK’s first research symposium on mending. MendRS took place on the first weekend of July and today I want to share my reflections on the symposium as part of the MendRS Blog Tour; at the end of this post you will find all the other dates past and future.
The Symposium took place at Bill Lloyd’s farm, called Slough Farm:
Here you can see Bill chatting with Miriam Dym, one of the presenters at MendRS. As you can see, it was a very casual affair, with most people staying in tents, and the big barn in the back serving as our conference centre, auditorium, canteen and coffee shop (Miriam and I shared many a damn fine cup of coffee.)
I didn’t quite know what to expect from the symposium and I decided to go with an open mind and a blank slate. It was amazing how quickly I felt at home at the barn and how quickly we got to know each other. It soon became clear that despite all the different areas of interest from the participants, there seemed to be a common underlying mindset: if something is broken, whatever this might be, the first question any of the MendRS participants ask is “can this be repaired” and not “can this be replaced.” We all felt this approach is no longer a common one, as everything seems to be available in abundance and mostly cheaply, too, and most people choose the perceived easier option of replacement.
This manifested itself in many ways. To start with, I found many examples of Visible Mending around the farm:
A day before the symposium started, Kendal experienced an unusual amount of rain and one of the footpaths had to be repaired after a flash-flooding:
Steve Grundy, who does many repairs at Slough farm, patched his work trousers with cotton and leather:
Slough Farm was built in 1771! This grand old age meant there were many repairs to be found on the buildings themselves, but I particularly liked this plastic corrugated roof on a little extension, as it somehow really works together (click on the picture for a larger version):
The D.I.Y. Store brought together broken objects and mending skills. As the Mender in Residence I was given the challenge of repairing these trainers with cracked soles. As you can see, I couldn’t help myself applying a knitterly approach to this task:
Artist Kate Lynch had several projects on the go and you can find out much more about them on her own website, but one of the things I really enjoyed was her Helping Hands project, where symposium participants were invited to highlight Visible Mending on the farm, or things that required mending. I found this rug:
Apart from presenting my Visible Mending Programme, I also taught people to darn and to knit, and performed quite a few repairs, including Bill’s guernsey. Here you can see the mended collar, and I also put in his initials:
After this weekend of sharing thoughts and listening to talks in a relaxed environment, I realised that the scale on which people work is very different. Some people think big and would like to see policy changes, all the way down to where I feel most comfortable: a very hands-on practical and personal approach through the Visible Mending Programme. Attending the symposium has shown me the validity of this approach, and I want to continue providing repair inspiration, skills and services and share the joy of mending!
Here’s a teaser of my next mending project. All shall be revealed in due course on my blog, so keep an eye out.
The MendRS Blog Tour has only just started, and there are many stops still to come. It’s also worth checking the previous tour stops; you can find them all in this comprehensive list: