Today I attended This Is Not A Craft Fair from the Govanhill Community Trust. It was a clanjamfrie of cans, jackets, cameras, and various other scraps and ends reinvented and re-appropriated. It was a refreshing down to earth up-cycling time travelling experience. A crumbling building built a hundred years ago inhabited by a diverse metropolitan community of 21st century dreamers claiming and reclaiming relics scattered across the last ten decades. Strange prints from mid twentieth century lounges to yesterday’s can of ginger attached with a 40s make do and mend ethic, proudly worn with boho character and punk insouciance.
Despite this nostalgia I felt this’Not A Craft Fair’ gave me more of a glimpse of the future than the past.
Imagine life in the late 21st century where oil has peaked and priorities have had to be realigned. A cheerful post-apocalyptic place where one wakes in the morning and takes a salvaged pair of net curtains to fish Lego from the seashore before hopping on one’s washing machine bicycle to the microbrewery/3D printer plant/croft/archaeology dig/junkyard record label where we knit beer and creative fold houses, exhibit rare plant strains and decopatch personal healthcare plans. Where times are tough but all enterprises are social. Where children grow up coding and planting and telling stories. Where ecology meets music. Where survival meets retro-futurism.
Buy why wait? History apparently ended in the mid 90s with the ‘final’ victory of neo-liberal capitalism. Recently history’s got going again. Let’s not just feel the hand of history on our shoulder but take that hand and ask it to dance.
We don’t need more calamity to get to this new age, to learn these new steps. We’ve got enough natural and unnatural calamity to inspire us. We should get creative. We welcome positive policy from progressive politicos. Recent movement on land reform is heading massively in the right direction freeing up space and people to re-connect with each other.
But we don’t need to wait for it. The folk at Govanhill Baths didn’t just wait around. They took the initiative and took hearts and minds with them. It’s important in the post-referendum landscape that we don’t focus all our energy on the technical public debates that jostle back and forth. Yes we should be informed and engaged but we’re not just complacent spectators. We can get on up taking what we want from the past to what we want from the future.
My wonderful wife has just finished making a wonderful advent calendar. She used a mix of fantastic fabrics, many of which had special meanings or links to family history. This is how we should approach traditions: rooting through saving and celebrating what has practical use for the present… and not being afraid to rip them up.
Let’s follow Govanhill’s example and reclaim space and object for people where up-cycling an up-skilling and up-esteeming all go hand in hand in a Dashing White Sergeant of vibrant, ingenious imagining!