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Back in vogue: Repairing and upcycling take centre stage in a London exhibition

Mending can also be about care and healing when it aims to bring (back) to life objects that are vectors of history and emotion. This is a point addressed by the exhibition "Eternally Yours," running in London until the end of the summer

Published: Jun 27, 2022 05:42:42 PM IST
Updated: Jun 27, 2022 05:43:51 PM IST

Back in vogue: Repairing and upcycling take centre stage in a London exhibition The "Eternally Yours" exhibition in London focuses on the art of repair. Pictured here is Yuko Edwards' On Skin, 2022. Image: Courtesy of Yuko Edwards

Revived during the pandemic, fixing and mending are back on the agenda, extending the lifespan of our clothes and belongings. This age-old practice today serves more than one purpose, responding not only to economic but also to ecological challenges. But it can also be about care and healing when it aims to bring (back) to life objects that are vectors of history and emotion. This is a point addressed by the exhibition "Eternally Yours," running in London until the end of the summer.

There are countless YouTube channels, Instagram profiles and books dedicated to repairing, mending or upcycling clothes and objects of all kinds, reflecting a growing interest in a practice that fell by the wayside decades ago. Part of the much broader trend for all things DIY (Do It Yourself), these practices are making a comeback at a time when the climate crisis, coupled with an economic crisis, is pushing people to adopt new, more responsible—and economical—behaviors. More concretely, it is about fighting overconsumption by extending the lifespan of our products, whether they are of financial or emotional value.

In London, Somerset House is kicking off the summer season with a free exhibition entirely dedicated to the notion of repairing and restoring—on practical and emotional levels. By highlighting various examples of creative reuse, from old products to recent works, "Eternally Yours" is an invitation to reconnect with aged and worn objects, whatever they may be, and to appreciate the history and emotion that stems from them. The exhibition "takes the idea of 'repair' as a philosophy and a provocation, inviting us to reconsider our way of life and relationship to the planet, and everything that surrounds us."

Gee's Bend, Boro and Kintsugi

From the stories of survival sewn into the soles of Syrian migrants' shoes by Aya Haidar to the upcycling of objects salvaged after the 2011 tsunami in Japan by Aono Fumiaki, repair is shown for the first time in a new light, encompassing the power of healing and the duty of remembrance, heightening the emotional value of items that could have—as has been the custom for decades—simply wound up in the trash. "'Eternally Yours' seeks to spotlight the worth in the seemingly worthless," explain the organizers in a statement.

Also read: Right to repair: A movement that's good for the environment, and your finances

The visit begins with a tribute to the many creative expressions of mending from around the world, highlighting time-honored traditional methods. Examples include Gee's Bend quilts, created by generations of women in a remote Alabama hamlet; the Japanese art of Boro, which involves mending clothing with patchwork fabrics; and Kintsugi, a Japanese art form that repairs broken pottery with gold.

The "Eternally Yours" exhibition runs until September 25, and will feature workshops and demonstrations themed on repair and upcycling. These will allow visitors to discover techniques to extend the life of many types of objects, while offering them the opportunity to transform their personal belongings.

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