The virus urges us to go home, spend time with our families and observe the little moments grounded in the everyday.
What if we ask, how much do you like this home? How did it come about through hardships? What must not be forgotten?
All the “SLOW STiTCH” artists around the world that I have found and admire share one vision – to call on people to slow down and use both hands and hearts to reflect upon histories and cultures. All the while that I was conversing with them, the creative space overhead opened up without my noticing.
Our ancestors departed from nomadic lives to enter into the nomadism of today, we evolved from primitive rōnins into futuristic travellers of mindscapes, all these were driven by an unchanging essence of living, which lived on in different ways.
As such, the SLOW STiTCH NOMAD project unfolded in my mind…
I have been getting more and more curious about how we used to live, and how we reached here today. All along, I thought about how we could use needles and threads to sew up this home, to bring everyone to see the past with their eyes, listen to the old neighbours’ authentic stories with their ears, go through the footprints of time with hearts and hands, and from there, pass them on from generations to generations.
First stop – Blue House, a place imbued with traces of living for a hundred years by Hong Kong people. From the very surface, let us dive through layers after layers into our history, then you will find that it really is only a hand’s throw away.
In free schools back then, classes were taught to fifty to sixty people at once and conducted in full days with no breaks. With only two years of schooling all his life, he writes very fine calligraphy and would write spring couplets for others during the Lunar New Years…
All clothes were handmade, hence precious. Dressers were not needed when three or more hooks already sufficed…
Coming through so enchantingly, these were the stories told by the old residents of Blue House, very real and at the same time, quite unimaginable. We documented them one by one so that they may be passed on.
Following the Future Fashion Lab in 2019, set designer Obie Chan from Screw Up Studio took us on a leap through time again. Using portable sewing machines as the blueprint this time, he applied the speed hole theory to reduce weight and made a mobile work case that was equal parts innovative, functional and aesthetic. From now on, I can travel anywhere light with the slow stitch tools.
A virus divides us, a needle stitches us together.
The “SLOW STiTCH NOMAD” workshop eventually moved on from offline to online, nevertheless, we propped up the shelter in the backyard of Blue House. Sitting on the round mattresses remade of used yoga mats and mattresses, we play the video by Tseser Creative Studio and the recordings of the old residents, so that as you stay home and open the making kit, you may imagine yourself with us stitching up this home by hand together. Within Blue House’s renovated architecture and preserved old flat, let your feelings stay still as you listen to the stories and learn to use needles and threads as pens and ink. Together, we document this slow stitch nomad journey.
When you have completed, let the embroideries in your hands be a part of the exhibition pieces in May. I will collect these works and sew them together into a special design, a collective creation that belongs to us and this place. Let our names and this journey in craft stay in Blue House’s post 100 years of history.
With our busy lives suddenly suspended, it was as if a most suitable opportunity has presented itself, calling on us to slow down, revisit our origins and recollect the hard-earned domestic wisdoms from the past.
Recall how our ancestors got here,
Relearn the skills they taught us and
Reserve what we shall pass to the future.
Slow down and stitch through time.