Making During A Pandemic

Lead Image: ‘Don’t Panic’ by Allison Lee exhibited with Sheroes in Quarantine

Decorating Dissidence collaborated with Dr. Aoife Monks (Queen Mary, University of London) to exchange ideas and develop resources that highlight how the skills involved in craft work have morphed and adapted during the last two year under various COVID-19 lockdowns…

As this project shows, craft resources have been integral to changing conditions of work and skill sharing. Furlough freed professional dressmakers to donate scrubs to hospitals, a sense of mutual aid saw residents in Kent pool their resources to make masks, and the collaborative ‘Quarantine Quilt’ sought to create a sense of community with those kept apart. Here, with makers, artists, academics and activists, we reflect on how we might historicise this moment, document the changes, and celebrate the makers who have used, adapted and improved their skills over the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

First Steps:

The last year saw an uptick in people trying out new crafts for the first time. We asked three makers to take us through their journey – from first steps to finished product – to inspire others to follow along.

Pandemic Diaries:

On the ground, makers had to respond in real-time to an ever-changing situation. We asked three makers who Decorating Dissidence have previously worked with to take us through their process.

shares how to keep a quilting practice going during lockdown…

shares how a home became a weaving studio

shares a journey through clay, identity and curating over the last two years…

share how they pieced together a live performance during the pandemic

Talk series:

In collaboration with Dr. Aoife Monks, we organised a day-long talk series with makers, academics and activities to explore ‘Histories of Making During States of Emergency’ (8 June 2021).

Inspiring Projects:

We came across many inspiring projects that brought people together through craft practices, using quilting, ceramics, knitting, embroidery and found materials to bind together and express both individual and collective experiences during lockdowns and beyond. Here are just a few…

Decorating Dissidence projects

During the last two years, we are also greatly appreciative of everyone who took part in our podcast series, Guest Project’s residency project ‘Take Dada Seriously! It’s Worth It?’ and ongoing journal issues, including guest editors Daniel Fountain and Polly Hember. Our contributors kept us going, with new exhibitions, community work, journal issues and personal projects that centred craft. Moving our ways of working, collaborating and communicating online has taught us new skills and made us new friends – but it hasn’t always been easy. So, thank you to everyone who has helped to keep us creating in the last two years as well!

Finally – we want to hear from you!

Did you use your skills to create masks and scrubs for your local hospital? Did you pick up a new skill? Did you find old skills difficult to motivate? From collective action to individual projects – we want to hear from you to help keep documenting the amazing craft work that will continue to shape our experiences of the pandemic…

About the project

‘Making During a Pandemic’ documents in a small way how craft became an integral part of our experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. We would love to hear about your experiences and to share them on this page.

Alexandra Peat
Alison Vogelaar
Aoife Monks
Bisila Noha
Black Girl Knit Club
Daniel Fountain
Elsa Thompson
Eloïse Ptito-Echeverria
Emily Grimble
Esther Leslie
Isabel Davis
Lilly Carr
Liz K Miller
Lucy McCormick
Madi Acharya-Baskerville
Meg Wellington
Morven Mulgrew
Ophelia Dos Santos
Paul Nataraj
Polly Hember
Quarantine Quilt
Raisa Kabir
Rezia Wahid, MBE
Rosamund Coady
Rose Sinclair
Sarah Joy Ford
Sheroes in Quarantine
Stitches in Time
Yusuf Osman