In August we welcomed some visitors to the mill for a design residency – Ciara and Cara, two creative students, along with their co-ordinator Fran from the University for the Creative Arts based in Epsom, Surrey. Ciara is a young designer who worked alongside Prickly’s weavers to learn our traditional processes of making. Cara worked as a digital communications intern to amplify our voice and tell the story of Highland heritage crafts online.
With financial support from the Creative Europe Program of the European Union, this creative residency was set up through organisational collaboration of La Blouse Roumaine IA Association (Romania), National Institute of Heritage (Romania) and The University for the Creative Arts (England) – As a result of the residency, Cara will go on to create a collection inspired by her immersion in authentic artisan Highland tartan.
This project’s starting point was a dynamic campaign launched by the La Blouse Roumaine community in response to big designer fashion brands copying traditional attire and processes from Romania in their collections, with inaccurate references and no credit to their origin. Ever since, their #GiveCredit social media accounts have been shining light on cultural design plagiarism in the fashion industry. This is where the ‘Give (Back) Credit to Heritage Communities’ project, and our participation in it, came from.
Prickly is a community-focused company, so any opportunity to work with students is welcomed by us with open arms. We agreed to this ‘cultural co-operation’ project because it aimed to re-contextualise heritage textiles within the modern sustainable fashion landscape, whilst recognising the cruciality of preserving ancestral skills and practices. To place more value on cultural craft and shine light on the real communities who they belong to, who are still practicing the traditional ways of making and being negatively impacted by globalised industry appropriation.
“…due to the deterioration of the creative process, but also the limited protections which legally and financially favour the designer over the community that is being appropriated. The importance of restoring control and recognition to makers of heritage products is imperative to preserve this endangered knowledge and promote an alternative to the destructive transactional relationships in the fashion industry”
People say that artisan craft is a ‘sunset industry’. But we are here. The tenacity and resilience of artisan makers has stood the test of time, and the MANY threats that have been thrown at people like us throughout history. The industrial revolution didn’t kill us then, so we sure as hell won’t let it kill us now. We are fighting back with everything we have, but the nature of what we do combined with the world we live in today… means we cannot do it alone. Preserving heritage craft is a collective effort. A community liberation.
More about this in #2.
Love Clare and the Team