Sarah Corbet and Craftivism
Disappointed by the common and often misread means of activism, Sarah Corbet, once a burnt out activist, is the heart and brains behind a new way to protest against injustice. Founder of Craftivist Collective, Sarah Corbet and her ever growing team of crafters aim to challenge the status quo and influence government to use its power over social and economic conditions one stitch at a time.
“Craftivism”, coined by writer Betsy Greer, is the art of activism through the use of craft in aim to create a positive change through proactive and non-violent creative actions. Craftivist Collective was designed by Sarah in 2009 to give an opposing voice of activism from the traditional extroverted form and allows the more introverted or worn out activist a space for campaigning as well as giving the idea of craft a more modern and edgier feel. This aesthetically pleasing form of activism works by challenging the thought of others and allowing them to reflect on the message being said rather than forcing the idea upon people. With this approach to activism people are given the choice to engage with the message, physiologically making them more accepting to think and open up to an idea in comparison to a giant sign being thrown straight into your face.
With the whisper being louder than the cry in Sarah’s case this is not to say her projects come in small scale. Various past projects from the Craftivist Collective include the Banner Project, where small hand-stitched banners were hung across London in aim to provoke thought to passersby about our local global neighbours (examples of this include small banners hung inside the courtyard of Somerset House during London Fashion Week commenting on the wages of garment workers in Vietnam in comparison to LFW models or banners outside the Treasury in London challenging the injustice of tax dodging). Other large projects created by Sarah include creating cross-stitched masks placed on mannequins in unethical shops, handkerchiefs to challenge local MP’s and a large jigsaw project unveiled at Manchester’s People’s History Museum to support Save the Children’s, Race Against Hunger campaign.
As well as tackling pressing issues the growing movement brings together a sense of community not always found in other forms of activism. With a large percentage of the protesters being female, Craft Collective and craftivism worldwide gathers together a strong feminist community offering expression of personal experience through public art, knit and craft. This almost kitsch comeback of craft (and I use the term “kitsch” in the best way possible!), can be seen all over the global online community, just look at nearly any Etsy store or Tumblr account to find this revival of anarchistic-craft, tackling social, political and third-wave feminist issues.
With Craft Collective recently giving TedxBrixton talks earlier this year, having regular exhibitions and workshops around London and the UK and their book “A Little Book of Craftivism” launched last month it’s safe to say that Sarah Corbet brings a decorative style to activism that can’t be missed. Inspiring many to take action and take the first step in raising awareness, pushing for equality for all or even just creating heartwarming communities that weren’t there before, Sarah Corbet is definitely a woman with a voice to be heard.
Text: Cassie-Jo Millar