My name is Tom van Deijnen and I’m a self-taught textiles practitioner, based in Brighton, UK. I like to do things that take forever – it allows me to gain a deep understanding of the material qualities and traditional techniques, and I tend to use hand-stitching for making and mending contemporary objects.
I’m interested in both sustainability and the rich textile history of the United Kingdom, and as a result I enjoy exploring the boundaries of when the life of a garment (and by extension any object) starts and ends. When considering motivations of repair, I favour not the new and perfect but the old and imperfect, as this allows me to highlight the relationship between item and user. My interest in using traditional techniques for creating and repairing textiles means that the acts of creating and mending are in constant conversation with each other.
Get In Touch
You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
About The Visible Mending Programme
The Visible Mending Programme seeks to highlight that the art and artisanship of clothes repair is particularly relevant in a world where more and more people voice their dissatisfaction with fashion’s throwaway culture. By exploring the story behind garment and repair, the Programme reinforces the relationship between the wearer and garment. Hopefully this leads to people wearing their existing clothes for longer, with the beautiful darn worn as a badge of honour. Through social media, running darning workshops and taking repair work commissions I provide mending inspiration, skills and services to people and hopefully persuade them that shop-bought clothes deserve care and attention too, just like a precious hand-knit.
Please note: unless otherwise stated, the photographs you find on this blog are my property, please ask my permission before redistributing or reproducing them.
Brighton Repair Café
I volunteer at the Brighton Repair Café. We meet every last Saturday of the month and help you repair your stuff, ranging from garment repairs to small electrical goods, bicycles, and more. To find up-to-date information about venue and date of the next Repair Café, please check their facebook page here.
Past Exhibitions, Talks and Events
19 October 2019 – 22 January 2020, Don’t Feed The Monster! Punkt Ø, Galleri F15, Moss, Norway. I’ve been invited to show how I work, and my interest in clothing repair from an activist perspective as part of the ‘Don’t Feed The Monster!’ exhibition. You can find more information here.
6 April, 2019, National Museum of Finland, Helsinki, Finland. I was invited by the National Museum of Finland as part of the Consumption Binge festival. I taught two workshops and gave a short talk on Visible Mending. More information here.
5-11 August, 2018, Maker&Smith Winter Program, Perth, Australia. I was invited by Maker&Smith for their inaugural event, comprising a screening of the Craft Council’s Real to Reel film shorts, talks by visiting artists, and a programme of Visible Mending workshops. More information about Maker&Smith here. I was also interviewed by Eddie Ayres for ABC RN The Hub on Art. You can listen to it here.
26 November – 10 December, 2017, Textielmuseum, Tilburg, The Netherlands. I made it to the top ten of the annual Textielmuseum contest! This year’s theme was “Reinventing Textiles” and my visibly mended vintage Welsh blankets and linen tea towels are on display at the Textielmuseum 26 November-10 December. More information here.
21 June-9 September, 2017, The New Craftsmen, London. The New Craftsmen is delighted to present Animal, Vegetable, Mineral – a joyful summer celebration of new talents and new pieces. The ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’ exhibition at The New Craftsmen is an exciting moment to showcase new skills, pieces and makers. Curated in partnership with Sue Parker, the show includes work from over 25 different makers, including myself.
31 March-9 June, 2017, Selfridges, London. I was invited by The New Craftsmen and Selfridges to collaborate with Aimee Betts on a series of Stitch & Play workshops, with participants stitching together on a throw and share stories about stitching.
21-22 January, 2017, Merci Concept Store, Paris, France. I was invited to Merci in Paris to repair clothes that people brought along, or have choosen from a pile of vintage clothes, as part of their exhibition “Imparfait” (link in French only.)
24, 25 September, 2016, Burberry Makers House, London. I was invited by The New Craftsmen and Burberry to take part in Makers House, as part of Burberry’s September Collection presentation. The September collection was in part inspired by craft and making, and Makers House celebrated this by inviting a number of makers to show their skills to the public in an enchanting pop-up shop.
20, 21 May, 2016 Brighton festival, Brighton. I took part in At Home, A 21st Century Salon, which included BOY STITCHERS: “Until quite recently in human history, a lady’s needlework was a sign of being a good and virtuous woman. BOY STITCHERS reverses this stereotypical image and shines light on a new breed of male stitchers, exploring the work of Trevor Pitt, Stewart Easton, Luke Deverall and Tom of Holland who together talk about and demonstrate their artistic approaches to working with textiles.” A review on Total Theatre can be found here.
11 March, 2016, Cultures of Repair Past and Present, Constance Howard Gallery, Goldsmiths, University of London. Cultures of Repair Past and Present, is a free one-day workshop to accompany the exhibition A Remedy for Rents: Darning Samplers and Other Needlework from the Whitelands College Collection. Through morning presentations and an afternoon of ‘hands-on’ darning led by Tom of Holland, the workshop will explore the mending, maintenance, reuse and recycling of textiles from historical, design, fashion, art and craft perspectives. Throughout, the emphasis will be on interaction and the exchange of ideas and practices between audience and speakers.
18-19 September 2015, Pitt Rivers Museum. I ran two darning master classes as part of the Pitt Rivers ‘Preserving What Is Valued’ new display case and museum trail.
26-28 August 2015, In the Loop 4, University of Glasgow, Glasgow. I presented a case study on a Visible Mending Commission from the Knitting & Crochet Guild. More information on In the Loop 4 can be found here.
During January and February 2015, the MUM+DAD Sweater was on show as part of The Department of Repair at Camberwell Space, Camberwell College, London.
On 8 November 2014, London College of Fashion, I presented a case study on using traditional repair techniques in a 21st Century application for the Knitting History Forum.
On 1 November 2014, A’ the Airts Arts Centre, Sanquhar, Dumfriesshire, I presented a paper on Sanquhar knitwear as part of the Knitting in the Round events organised by the University of Glasgow.
During May 2014, The Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches were shown as part of Brighton Artists Open Houses. More details here.
On 3 April 2014, I presented a paper at Knitting 1914-2014, organised by the Knitting Reference Library: “From piece work to a modern classic: the development of Sanquhar knitting.”
The Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches were shown at the Cabinets of Curiosity exhibition at Walford Mill Crafts March 2014.
The Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches – at Prick Your Finger, February 2013. Exploring knitting stitches from the obscure to the well-known, presented as a Curiosity Cabinet of yore.
Tom Says Darn It! paid a special visit the Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead, September 2012.
Late June 2012, I presented The Visible Mending Programme at Mend*RS, the first mending research symposium in the UK.
In September 2012, I presented a paper on The Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches at the In The Loop 3 conference in Winchester.
The Reading Gloves – at Prick Your Finger, January 2011. What would it be like if gloves portrayed characters from classic novels?
Mentions on the Interwebz
I was interviewed by Meghan Hutchins for her Making For Change podcast. We talked about visible mending, agency and hand work.
I was interviewed by Positive News about my mending activism.
I was interviewed as part of the Slow Fashion Citizen series on the Fringe Association website.
I got a mention in Sass Brown’s column on the Not Just A Label website, as an illustration how people are moving from throw-away fashion to a more sustainable approach.
My views on alternatives to Black Friday in The Guardian – Sustainable Business section.
A Q&A on the Love Knitting blog about my love for knitting, mending and British rare breeds wool.
I was interviewed for an article in The Guardian on The Rise of Mending as part of their Live Better Challenge.
A Q&A with friend and amazing knitwear designer, Kate Davies about knitting, Foula Wool and the knotted steek.
A Q&A with Crafty Magazine about knitting and The Curiosity Cabinet of Knitting Stitches.
A Q&A with Campaign for Wool about my mending activities.
I was interviewed by Linda Newington for the Knitting Reference Library blog about knitting.