Well Being

The Art of Gentle Protest

Sat 25 Nov / Quarterhouse

If we want our world to be more beautiful, kind and fair, then shouldn’t some of our activism be beautiful, kind and fair?

The word “activism” can conjure up connotations of quick signings of petitions, clicktivism, or loud and aggressive ways to demand justice. But activism can be different. Sarah Corbett believes that Craftivism - activism through craft - can be an effective tool in the activism toolkit.

Her approach to Craftivism is to tackle issues not with anger and shouting, but with gentle protest. Gentleness is not weak, it requires self-control in the face of anger, injustice and sadness. Gentle protest lets us have conversation instead of an argument and collaboration instead of opposition.

She became a Craftivist because she had become a burnt out activist. She began to leave small pieces of provocative street art in her area, and those pieces started conversations on and offline. She embroidered a hanky as a gift for her local politician with a personal message. It felt much more respectful than shouting at her. We became critical friends rather than aggressive enemies. In 2009, she set up the Craftivist Collective after much demand and to help people become effective Craftivists and good global citizens.

Sarah Corbett grew up in an activist family and has worked as a professional campaigner for 6 years most recently with Oxfam. She started doing craftivism (craft + activism) in 2008. Due to demand Sarah set up the global Craftivist Collective in 2009 providing projects, tools and services to individuals and organisations wanting to learn effective craftivism. She is now one of the leading spokespeople in the craftivism movement. Corbett has delivered over 300 workshops and events to over 11,000 people worldwide. She works with art institutions such as the Southbank & National Portrait Gallery as well as charities such as Save the Children & Unicef. She has collaborated with cult jewellers Tatty Devine & Secret Cinema amongst others and has just finished her first solo exhibition called ‘Gentle Protest’ in Stockholm. Corbett has taught her approach to craftivism at universities including Bauhaus University in Germany and Parsons New School in New York City. Her first book “A Little Book of Craftivism” was published October 2013. 

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