Bronwen Jones, London, is mainly into “Darning”, repairing and making clothes. She doesn’t see this as a way of sustainability, but as something she grew up with. A life of repairing, reusing and discovering things. With a father in the house who repaired anything that was broken, a mother behind the sewing machine who could alter and repair clothes and with a grandmother who taught her how to crochet, her interest in repair and textiles was born. After studying in Brighton for 1 year and getting oriented in what she wants, Bronwen ended up in Amsterdam at the TXT Textile Department at Rietveld. Here she learned to weave and understand the context and language of textiles.
“Weaving changes the pace”
Surrounded by Vondelpark and beautiful stately old houses lies Bronwen’s studio, which she shares with 7 other creatives. An inspiring place! Also for Bronwen, who gets her inspiration from the small moments. The sunlight falling through the studio windows, repairing a beloved sweater of a good friend, looking at the way a coat hangs over the chair or a sweater that is thrown in a corner. This was a great point of inspiration for Bronwen’s graduate project. Using silicone to “freeze” a garment, all the wrinkles and creases stayed in it. But as soon as you move the silicone object it changes shape again, just like our body.
“Clothing has a life of its own separate from our bodies”
The pandemic threw a lot of spanner in the works and brought a lot of loneliness. Bronwen saw this problem as an opportunity for something new, she wanted to meet people. Thus, she started ‘Clothing Correspondence’. On social media she posted calls to repair broken clothes in exchange for a conversation. Not only by engaging in conversation with people but also by reading a garment she found out more about a person. How someone moves, how someone takes care of their garment, but also where the holes and wear marks are.
For a donation to refugees, a sweater was delivered that was full of holes. Bronwen decided to repair it so the sweater would be wearable again. The sweater is sent as a card back and forth between Bronwen and a good friend. Gloves for cold fingers that were made by the grandmother of a good friend, which had big wear marks due to logging. A 50 year old sweater with a hole near the heart, self made from self spun wool, which has been in the family for generations, was made by a grandmother and passed on to her son and then her granddaughter. A garment that is worn with love and repaired time and time again. Clothing takes on a life of its own. It is worn, dumped and cared for.
In this era we can buy anything we want, clothing has become a disposable item. As soon as it is broken, something new replaces it. The image of repair used to be for poor people, visible wear and tear. For Bronwen it is very valuable, it tells a lot about the person and how it has been lived. The emotional value behind a garment is much more important than how it looks or where it came from.
“Gaining happiness in mending is a gift”
March 2022 Amsterdam, Studio Bronwen Jones