Mending as an Art Form

Platform 21's Repair Manifesto

Jude Hill's post from a couple of weeks ago keeps coming to mind. Her words, always poetic, are particularly so here.

"The truth is, life has changed.  As it does.  And I have some new things to tend to.   And I am mending plans to fit.  Because that is what we do.  The nature of mending is to never really to be done.   It is Just to keep Going, patching here and there, carefully renewing to maintain usefulness.   Knowing there is a beauty in that.  Accepting that as enough."

I just love this. As it happens, I have been doing a lot of literal mending lately: resurrecting torn chain saw pants, replacing zippers, altering dog raincoats. What Jude says applies to this sort of thing, of course, but I like it even better as a metaphor. "The nature of mending is to never really be done." could be a mantra.

Mending is a part of the creative process and also of life. We create, we bring ideas and words and objects and gardens and relationships into being, but the act of creation doesn't stop there. There has to be attention paid, a nurturing or stewardship, a revisiting of intention. When I sell something I've made, it comes with a lifetime guarantee to repair or restore as needed.

One of the very difficult things about mending is that sometimes, eventually, things just wear out and become unrepairable. Sometimes one just has to call it, to let go. I think this aspect underlies the power of mending as metaphor, and it, too, is part of the cycle of creation.

 My friend Jen and I have made a proposal to offer mending as a workshop and performance piece for the conference Open Engagement in Portland later this spring. While researching this proposal I came across the artist Eleanor Ray, who offers workshops in Radical Mending. Another artist's project is Platform 21 Mending. Their Repair Manifesto is pictured at the top of this post. It seems that mending is being talked and thought about more now that it has become a practise that, for most people, has become old-fashioned and nostalgic.

If you know of other people working in this area, please comment. I'd love to hear about other artists working with mending as metaphor or art form.


  1. thanks for the Platform 21 Mending link, it's Dutch and I had not yet heard of it.
    I cannot claim to work with mending as metaphor or art form, though I have been mending just about everything I own since I moved from home at the age of 18 and had little money, it became a way of life. No sooner had I read your post, I checked my email and a friend had sent me a series of objects made from ladders, plastic spoons, piano's you name it; there isn't a link but I could mail them to you if you're interested and ask him for a link.

  2. hey, we are all in it together, maybe without realizing it.

  3. I love this post. Mending in a creative way can give awesome and unexpected results. Besides, mending means continuity, a link from the past to the future.
    I am with you.

  4. tomofholland does mending in Brighton, UK, and when I took a workshop some years ago with Dorothy Caldwell, she was very interested in mending...


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