What is the message of the World Wide Weave?
The World Wide Weave is first and foremost an artistic endeavour, meant to be appreciated and enjoyed as such, but also it carries with it at least FOUR messages.
Unity in Diversity
There are at the latest count 121 communities belonging to the international Camphill Movement, in 22 nation states comprising a total of 25 distinct regional areas. Each one is different and unique and yet wherever you might be in the world you can tell immediately that they belong to Camphill. Despite their huge diversity in size, location and tasks and the mix of people who constantly interweave their lives and destinies, they all have at their heart the core principles and ethos of the Camphill Movement. These include the recognition of the unique individuality and spiritual integrity of each human being; the importance of self-reflection and development and the potential for change, growth and renewal in every human life; the endeavour to maintain order and harmony in daily life and devotion to the smallest details; the importance of a social context for any task of healing, and the essential quality of meaningful work for the well-being of any person. The World Wide Weave transcends all boundaries of geography, history, language, religion, culture and politics. We hope this exhibition will carry a message of unity in diversity, of the gift of creativity and peace amongst people so different around the world. May it touch the hearts of visitors and speak to them of the ideal we all share.
In Camphill’s intentional communities people with learning disabilities live active, purposeful and creative lives, not merely as service users but as responsible co-creators of their communities. They can be fully engaged, skilled, talented and co-responsible community members carrying out real, meaningful and productive work which is fulfilling for them and of great value to others. The World Wide Weave carries this fundamental statement of equality regarding the potential of people with learning disabilities. The type of artistic and craft work in the project is not something which merely occupies the time or is valuable only for its therapeutic or educational aspects. The weavers, felters and tapestry-makers are artists and artisans in their own right and can place their work alongside that of mainstream artists and craftspeople. This is a crucial step in perception and imagination that we would hope to foster widely through our travelling exhibition.
Artists Producing Together
This concept was pioneered by Silvia Shinn in the art studio of Camphill St. Albans between 1997 and 2010. Whole groups of individuals would collaborate on a single piece of art, each contributing what they could towards the finished work. This has been a major feature in the development of the World Wide Weave. In some places everyone in the textile workshop was involved, in others every member of the entire community, so that every person who passed the workshop was invited in to weave a few threads or add some small detail to the whole picture. It was a strong community experience of social weaving as much as a hands-on experience of the craft. In its widest sense, everyone was inspired and enthused by the knowledge that they were part of something much bigger than their own locality – part of the worldwide ‘tapestry’ of the Camphill Movement.
This has been fundamental to Camphill since its inception 75 years ago. Care for the land, the farms and gardens, woods and fields has been a uniting principle in the life of most communities, and even plays a part in most urban communities too. Awareness of the annual cycle of nature has always been linked to the celebration of the Christian festivals of the year. Bio-dynamic agriculture and horticulture have been practised all over the world in Camphill, using environmentally friendly methods and substances to preserve and renew the vitality of the earth. Many communities have been able to produce a large proportion of their own vegetables and fruit, regularly involving children, young people and adults in enjoyable seasonal tasks. Many of the communities have used entirely home produced materials in the World Wide Weave. The theme of natural resources, recycling and renewal runs like a special thread throughout the exhibition and we hope that visitors will enjoy seeking this out in many of the written descriptions which accompany the textile pieces. Look out, for example, in four different places, for a beautiful exhibit made entirely out of materials that would normally be thrown away, for recycled denim jeans, plastic bottles and an old woollen sock!