"Mindfulness" and "self-care" may be new words, but in relation to crafts they describe something ancientby Annie Le Santo / April 18, 2020 / Leave a comment
During a pandemic, when stepping out of your home feels like a risk, it takes searching within it for a source of solace. It’s tempting to seek this reassurance from the blue-light of a screen, indulging in Twitter timelines, refreshing the news pages and monitoring grim statistics. Thanks to our global connectedness, being informed by professionals is easy. But to go further can send us into a spiral of anxiety and angst.
With no office to go to, no exercise class to attend, nothing external to participate in, we can be left with something else that is scary: time alone.
We are being told to stay indoors. To socially distance. But distancing doesn’t have to mean disconnecting. If remoteness becomes an inner feeling as well as a new physical reality, there’s a surefire way to rebalance and reconnect: creativity.
Understandably, there is already a lot of chatter about how to spend this time and, as long as we follow health advice, there is really no right or wrong way—but if you’re twiddling your thumbs, can’t concentrate or feeling overwhelmed, “making something” might be a pretty good one.
Craft as a way to self-soothe is not a new concept. Used in therapy for decades, in more recent years it has tumbled into our lives in colouring book trends, Pinterest fads and buzz words. Cynics may question the effectiveness of these, dismissing them as trivial, but this isn’t just a tedious wellness cliche: according to new research by the BBC and University College London, practising arts and crafts can genuinely alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, loneliness and even dementia.
What’s more, with major museums such as Tate Modern running craft-related exhibitions and artists working with traditional crafts winning prestigious prizes, crafts have also been re-entering public consciousness in established settings. The “art vs craft” debate, that often treats one as less prestigious than the other, is one becoming less relevant and handcrafted objects themselves are becoming more respected and collectable.
However, the privacy of our homes is where craft truly thrives. With no need for societal validation or prove its importance to anybody, in a world of tapping and swiping, the movement involved in casting off a scarf or pinching clay into a pot can induce a thrill…