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Vivienne Westwood talk at London Design Festival

“Everything we do is subsidising rich people”   Dame Vivienne Westwood net worth $50 million. I recently attended a London Design Festival talk by Vivienne Westwood titled ‘Sustainability Revolution: The Role of Activism in Designing a Sustainable Future’ and I want to talk about it. The title of the talk was merely an aspiration written by someone hopeful at the festival and it is a topic that would best suit Westwood to talk about, as someone who is known for her activist ethos and punk mentality. But obviously and admirably she does what she wants, and she decided to not talk about about activism or her role in designing for a sustainable future at all.  I went because I was interested in how her brand has evolved and the importance of sustainability in her work. I wanted to know how she can position herself a as a designer and head of a luxury fashion empire, (an industry that in the UK has the forth largest environmental impact after housing, transport a

01: Freddie Robins: Softness is Power

Hand of Good, Hand of God, domestic machine knitted and seamed, Freddie Robins, 1997

It's an absolute pleasure to welcome to our first podcast, the artist Freddie Robins. Robins uses juxtapositions between how knitting is and could be seen, unravelling preconceptions of femininity, motherhood, death and the body, and twists the soft into evil and back again, imbuing a sense of power in using metaphor in knitting. As Catherine Dormer, artist, has said, "Robins offers a challenge to the notion of knitting as a passive, benign activity."

"You can feel the human interaction with the materials."

"People collect things they see value in."

Access the episode:

 Notes and references in the episode

00:02:21 & 00:07:59 - Donna Wilson's Tormented Textiles Talk ~ Read more and hear the audio ~

Freddie mentioned the Crafts Magazine Power List and how it contained no one specific person on the list who worked and made textiles, only those that talked about it or designed it.

Textiles makers not present but there is writing about textiles. Grayson Perry uses his hands to make his clay objects but with textiles he designs it digitally, essentially he does not "think through the medium".

00:11:50 - Clothworkers Centre ~

Not public facing, V&A Textiles spread throughout the V&A - one day a dedicated department like ceramics has would be incredible for the specialism.

00:14:15 - Louise Bourgeois and Georgia O'Keefe ~ Briefly mentioned

00:17:32 - Kiki Smith and Sonia Delaunay ~ Briefly mentioned

How a staple gun in a tapestry, squint, begs the question of whether that would have happened to a canvas?

00:22:04 - Anni Albers ~ Exhibition currently on at the Tate Modern, London

00:30:50 - Hand of Good, Hand of God, Freddie Robins, 1997,

Pictured above. Robins used the constraints of the domestic knitting machine to make the largest glove she could and pushed the possibilities of the machine by adding smaller ones on the end of each finger.

00:36:40 - Someone else’s dream, Freddie Robins, 2014-16,

00:41:16 - Anyway, Freddie Robins, 2002,

Not everyone knew it was knitted, in a way there was no trapping within the construction.

01:00:30 - Who's scared of the soft stuff?, Freddie Robins, Paper presented at RCA Cross College Symposium, Feminisms and Materialisms. PDF of Jean's notes of quotations available here:

01:05:20 & 01:11:20 - Forearmed and Forewarned, Freddie Robins, 2002,

01:15:20 - Tarzan, Knitting Pattern, Patricia Roberts, circa 1980s

01:17:20 - Lisa Anne Auerbach,

Jumpers that talk back - an art book was made that contained patterns for the jumpers. It was not found in knitting shops but rather in fancy art shops.


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