Last week On Mending was at Toast for the launch of Toast Renewed in Notting Hill, with a discussion on mending with author Celia Pym, Jessica Smulders Cohen, Shoreditch Toast repairer, led by Yasmin Jones-Henry, strategist for @raeburn_design and founder of #TheLabE20.
Solvable problems Celia, Yasmin and Jessica talked about the empowering nature of mending and how handling the work develops our material intelligence. Celia said: ‘A hole is a solvable problem, it’s very grounding’. Jessica talked about the soothing, repetitive nature of stitching and how that kind of material intelligence, learning with her hands, has helped her over the years. Yasmin mentioned her work with LabE20 and how setting up repair workshops has increased young people’s capacity to learn through their senses.
The Toast repair sheme Toast now have six on-site repair specialists around the country. Their new project features items that never made it to the shop floor due to imperfections, that have been repaired and are now better than new. Toast gifted attendees to the talk a copy of On Mending: Stories of damage and repair by Celia Pym. They also received some swatches of Toast fabrics to do their own repairs.
It’s not all about textiles At the event I met the writer Katie Treggiden and Jane Ní Dhulchaointigh (above left) who literally invented Sugru! So cool. If you haven’t tried mending things with Sugru, where have you been?
Events Coming up
Meet Make Mend is this Wednesday, 1 March at Trinity Rooms, Stroud. 7–9pm. Learn to darn and share your mending conundrums, no experience is necessary Book here. We’ll be at a pop-up Death Cafe at Stroud Brewery this Tuesday evening. At a Death Cafe people gather to discuss death. Their stated objective is ‘to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives’. Join authors Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds at The Freud Museum in London for a talk on 15 March. They will be joined by author of Listen, Dr Kathryn Mannix. Book tickets on the Freud Museum website. They will also be taking part in the Stroud Film Festivalwith an event on 19 March showing the film Pathways Through Loss directed by Danai Papadatou. After the film Danai will be taking questions from the audience directly from Athens. The q&a will be supported by The Good Grief Project and Compassionate Communities. Sunday 19 March, 3pm Trinity Rooms, Field Road, Stroud GL5 2HZ (across the road from Stroud Maternity ward).
We’ve had a busy few weeks with some great book events. It’s been so good to make contact with real people. For the many who couldn’t get tickets to hear Freddie Robins and Celia Pym at Loop, there is a film of the whole thing, so grab a cup of tea and settle in for a listen. If you have any more questions for Celia and Freddie, just drop me a line. There’s lots more planned so sign up to the newsletter and follow on Instagram to be the first to know.
1 December The authors of When Words are Not Enough: Creative responses to grief, Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds, will be in conversation with Sophie Pierce, one of the contributors to the book. Sophie lost her son Felix and talks about how she has managed to carry through cold-water swimming and the letters she writes to him. Dartington Trust Bookshop, Totnes, Devon. 1 Dec, 6pm More information and booking here.
2 December Celia Pym, author of On Mending: Stories of damage and repair, will be online hosted by the lovely Tatter Library in Brooklyn, New York. Discussing individual stories from the book, she will explore mending as small acts of care; mending and the body and why the softening of clothing to take on the shape of its owner can be moving. After the talk Celia and Jordana Martin from Tatter will be in conversation about care and repair in textiles and the body. More information and booking here.
4 December Finding Quiet Strength has been highlighted by Juno Magazine as one of their top picks for Christmas books to gift. It’s such a beautiful hardback object. Author Judith Kleinman will be at Highbury bookshop Ink84 to give an introduction to Finding Quiet Strength, the philosophy that underpins her new book. Bring your yoga mat to get involved. Sunday 4 Dec, 11am. More information and booking here. Judith will also be hosting a longer residential retreat at Hawkwood College, Stroud, 20–22 January. Something to look forward to. More information and booking here.
Quickthorn are pleased to announce a new book for this autumn, Intelligent Hands: Why making is a skill for life.
Intelligent Hands is the work of authors Charlotte Abrahams and Katy Bevan, both of whom have a background in the world of craft and design. Recent years have seen a decline in craft and creative education in schools and a shift from practical to theoretical learning models in higher education. Young people are leaving school with no idea that craft-based careers are even possible, and graduates of craft-based degree courses are entering the workplace with so few hand skills that their employers must train them from scratch.
Where did the idea come from that white-collar work should be rewarded more with money and status than that of a blue-collar worker? Intelligent Hands looks at this phenomenon, the historical precedents that led us here and why hand skills are crucial in education and for lifelong learning. The authors are on a mission to enlighten the uninitiated and persuade the nay-sayers who dismiss craft as no more than a nice hobby or believe that doing things with your hands is for those who can’t use their heads. And for the converted, we offer more grist to your mills, ammunition for funding applications, inspiration for those who plan school curricula and further reading for your speciality.
Intelligent Hands brings existing research and information together in an accessible format for those for those who don’t have time to trawl through all the information that is already out there. With a brief look at the history of practical education, we have collated some of the research that has been done in disparate fields to show that combining physical ways of learning with the conceptual in education is the way forward. We include the personal stories of ten people who have discovered that working with their hands has improved their quality of life. Through the three sections of the book, we look at how physical labouring became separated from academic study, how we became divorced from the materials that surround us and the important role that the crafts and creativity play in education, not just for the lower streams, but for everyone. In short, how making is a skill for life.
Intelligent Hands will be published in September 2023. To find out about our latest news and events please sign up for the newsletter below. We don’t get around to posting very often so you won’t be inundated with emails 😊
Some flexible resilience is something we could all do with right now. Being able to recognise our habits and make conscious choices from a place of quietness is a skill. Anxiety almost seems a default for so many of us, we need to find our inner smile, that place of quiet. The Alexander Technique is sometimes described as a martial art, a practical philosophy to help us to make good choices. Here’s Alexander practitioner and teacher Nick Chapman talking to Judith Kleinman about her book,Finding Quiet Strength and how she came up with the title. He has great praise for the tactile nature of the book and the beautiful design by Chris J Bailey.
Judith Kleinman is running a residential retreat at the lovely Hawkwood: Centre for Future Thinking 20–22 January. What a great gift for someone or a treat to look forward to in one of the darker months of the year. This course will explore how to develop a practice that creates flexible resilience, strength and ease in everyday life. It will help to find ways to let go of old habits that might have led to discomfort or pain and explore new intentions with a quiet, powerful, purpose and poise. There will be movement practices based on the ancient wisdoms of Yoga and Tai Chi as well as everyday movement and breath work.
The course will develop the ideas from Judith’s new book, Finding Quiet Strength and will create a unique experience of learning that balances visual, aural and kinaesthetic learning and flexible resilience. This approach will integrate and emphasise the interconnection of the mind, body and emotions. We will work on how to connect to ourselves, and our choices through constructive integrated thinking.
The deeply personal stories in When Words are Not Enough are moving and restorative. They tell tales of grief and memory written by those that have survived. The upcoming mini online festival organised by the folk behind The Good Grief Fest is based around these ideas of grief + memory. Authors Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds will be featuring online 6.30 Friday 28 October when they will be in conversation with Dr Lesel Dawson, Associate Professor in Literature and Culture at the University of Bristol, specialising in grief, Renaissance literature and the history of the emotions. She’s leading a research project on Creative Grieving that explores how art and the imagination can enable the bereaved to express and process their loss.
Jane will also be joining Julia Samuel and Nadja Ensink-Teich on Sat Oct 29th at 11am to talk about continuing bonds, grief and memory.
“What we understand now is that although the person we love has died, the relationship with them very much continues, and so the love with that person never dies…and we love them in absence rather than presence.”
Much like the Victorians, we now understand that relationships endure – and even evolve – beyond death. The theory of continuing bonds explores our ongoing relationships with loved ones who have died and how the strength of these relationships can impact our experience of grief and memory. In this panel session we will hear from people who have integrated their lost loved ones into the lives of the living, and how these continuing bonds have provided comfort and continuity during times of pain and upheaval. Register free for any of these events at https://goodgrieffest.com/whats-on/ and you can buy books from the event here. This is a short film about the book.
Juno is one of our favourite magazines that supports a natural approach to family life. Assistant editor, Alice Ellerby, reflects on the need to tune into your breath and gives Finding Quiet Strength a lovely review on the way.
“In this book Kleinman offers a practical philosophy that helps us approach life with a sense of calm and confidence that comes from being centred, in balance and grounded. The aim here isn’t to solve or avoid life’s challenges – they are inevitable – but to give us the capacity to navigate these challenges without intense feelings of stress and anxiety. If we are calm, we can think clearly; if we can think clearly, we can make conscious decisions and avoid acting in fight, flight or freeze mode. The practice draws on the discoveries of F.M. Alexander, and is also influenced by ancient traditions of chi kung, tai chi and yoga. I know from my own yoga practice how beneficial breath, movement and stillness can be for mental equilibrium. When stressed, it’s easy to think you have no time for lying on the floorand tuning into your breath; but then I find that’s exactly what is needed to recalibrate. The book is full of physical exercises and body positions to try to help you find this balance, and is beautifully illustrated with ink line drawings. Kleinman is spot on in her description of the book as ‘a gentle start to building some skills of self-regulation and embodied resilience'”. Alice Ellerby, Juno
Finding Quiet Strength is a beautiful ethically made cloth-bound hardback that would make a thoughtful gift. We all need a little prompting to help us to tune into our breath. Printed in the UK on FSC paper. Order through Hawthorn Press.
We’re not often comfortable talking about death and grief, so we’re delighted that ‘When Words are Not Enough’ is part of Stroud Book Festival that this year includes luminaries such as Ali Smith and Ian McEwan. Authors Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds will be talking about their experience of bereavement and how they responded to it with foreword writer, Dr Kathryn Mannix, bestselling author of ‘Listen’ and ‘With the End in Mind’. When Words are Not Enough will be launching as part of the Good Grief Festival, with an online event 28 Oct, 6.30pm. The Good Grief Festival is a virtual festival of love and loss. On October 28 and 29 Oct, their first mini-festival will take place on the theme of Grief + Memory.
The book includes the stories of thirteen other bereaved people and how their creativity helped them to survive. We’ve had such lovely reviews about the book, so don’t just take our word for it.
‘The word I keep coming back to with this book is beautiful, not a word I would usually associate with grief. But this book is rich in detail and compassion, it is authoritative and kind. Through their immense loss and pain Jane and Jimmy have done an extraordinary thing and redefined grief as love turned inside out. They make grief less scary. I have not read a better book on grief.’ Annalisa Barbieri, The Guardian
‘When Words are Not Enough offers that rarest of bereavement resources – a visual and verbal feast and a sustained look into the heart of grief that both acknowledges the raw anguish of tragic loss and invites the reader to share a fascinating and varied gathering of responses to it. I recommend it highly to all those who mourn, and all those who strive to accompany them through the experience.’Prof Robert Neimeyer, Director, Portland Institute for Loss and Transition
Pick up a copy of the book and get it signed, for yourself or as a gift for someone you may be supporting. Book tickets for 5 Nov 2022, 3.30 Lansdown Hall, from the Sub Rooms or through the link below.
The artist Celia Pym lives explores damage and repair in textiles. Working with garments that belong to individuals as well as items in museum archives, she is exposed to stories of damage, from moth holes to accidents with fire.
On Mending: Stories of damage and repair is a collection of ten stories of damaged garments – plus a rug and two backpacks, that Pym has mended in the last 15 years. These stories describe the ways in which clothes and cloth become holed, why a damaged sweater or backpack can be emotionally affecting and how mending a garment can unstick a stuck feeling.
‘Mending work builds on what is left behind. It’s not replacing, or remaking, or cutting apart and putting back together, instead it is slow work that makes things better. It conjures an unhurried recovery or change. In textiles, the act of mending wear-and-tear, thinning cloth or accidental damage builds on what already exists, anchoring threads and yarn into the robust healthy fabric and filling in the holes or reinforcing the areas that are weak.’
On Mending is published this November and available to preorder on our website now. Sign up to our newsletter for details of events and giveaways (we won’t bombard you, nor sell your details ☺️).
Everyone grieves for someone at some point in their lives. But how do we deal with the silence that often surrounds grief? How do we find ways to express painful feelings when words are not enough? In this deeply personal and beautiful reflection on grief Jane Harris and Jimmy Edmonds draw on their own experience of loss, and how the death of their son Josh has led to a creative response that is more than word bound. It also tells the story of thirteen other bereaved people who have found a creative response to their grief.
The nature of grief Here’s author Jane Harris talking with Dr Elaine Kasket, author of All the Ghosts in the Machine: The Digital Afterlife of Your Personal Data, in a lovely down-to-earth way, about the nature of grief and how you don’t think you’ll be able to cope, but usually you don’t have a choice, so you have to get on with it.
Jane and Jimmy’s new book, When Words are Not Enough: Creative responses to grief, explores the myriad creative ways that the bereaved find to express their loss. With a foreword by Dr Kathryn Mannix and contributions from thirteen other bereaved people. There have been some generous endorsements for the book too, so don’t just take my word for it. Published 5 Oct 22.
‘In the absence of any collective rituals or words with which to express their loss, this wonderful and very personal book offers those who find themselves in an agonising wilderness of grief, a kind of creative map to find a way out of the isolation.’ Juliet Stevenson
‘When Words are Not Enough shows us that searing loss isn’t necessarily the end, but a possible beginning.’ Greg Wise
‘Such an inspiring book – full of moving stories of people who have found active ways to respond to their grief, from photography through to (my favourite) cold-water swimming. Jane and Jimmy’s ten ‘lessons learned’ about the loss of their child wisely reject any idea of ‘moving on’ or ‘closure’. Indeed, this beautifully designed creation is itself an example of what the book is all about. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter
‘This is a book about sorrow, yet it is brimming with hope. This is a book about loss, but it overflows with love and generosity.’ Dr Kathryn Mannix
The launch of the latest title from Prof. Judith Kleinman was at independent bookshop Ink84 in Islington. Attended by more people than we were expecting, we completely sold out of books! There were lots of musicians at the launch, including pop star Ella Eyre. The book has been endorsed by lots of fans, including Nick Hornby and Arabella Weir.
I learned a lot from working with Judith Kleinman. She was able to locate in me a stillness and equilibrium I didn’t know I had, and that has stood me in good stead for all the vicissitudes of work and domestic life.
Finding Quiet Strength (FQS) is a practical philosophy that connects to both ancient wisdom and modern neuroscience. Judith Kleinman’s work enables a calm, confident, and coordinated approach to life, helping us to be centred, grounded and develop a sense of poise and equilibrium. At some point, most of us need help with the challenges of life. FQS is a practice of being present in a way that develops our emotional intelligence and embodied awareness enabling us to navigate the many ups and downs of being human. The work helps us to develop a deep and gentle self-acceptance. Through this self-acceptance, FQS helps us work on an embodied resilience and become more aware of what we can let go of and change.
Book Brunch also featured the launch on their website. Finding Quiet Strength: Emotional Intelligence, Embodied Awareness is available now.
I love Judith’s work. The drawings, words and thoughts are just lovely – their message is as calming as it is bursting with positive ideas. Easy to dip into yet rewarding to read, there are some great tools for life in this book.
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