Review: Shirt, by Metis, Pulse Festival, New Wolsey Theatre

METIS presents WORLD FACTORY: THE SHOP, immerse yourself in the world of the global textile industry METIS presents WORLD FACTORY: THE SHOP, immerse yourself in the world of the global textile industry

Sunday, June 15, 2014
6:14 PM

World factory is an ongoing art piece in two two parts. First: The Shop. There was an opportunity to visit a pop up shop by the METIS World Factory and look at the relationship between China and the UK through the lens of the global textile industry. Next: The Shirt.

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Director Zoe Svendsen and artist Simon Daw present what will be essentially a shirt, with stylishly placed barcodes upon its different sections. Each barcode will be linked to an app which you will be able to download onto your smart phones. Point the smart phone camera to the barcode and up will pop a short film clip showing you who made that part and how. It’s stripping back clothing to its barest form, and letting us know more about how our clothes are made.

The Chinese clothes-making factory is of focus in particular, as this art movement involves the work of Shanghai theatre director Zhao Chuan. This isn’t a judgement call about how the Chinese industry works or how we should revolutionise factory working policies. They aren’t going around dictating or exhuming superiority. “We are doing this as an insight into this world” says Zoe.

Take the time to visit another site. Bianca Winter informs us of the digital quilt which “takes you on a journey”. And what a journey it is.

The team found Ipswich to be a great platform for finding out about how much people care about their clothes. “Especially in the current prom season”, adds Zoe. “A lot of the guys and girls are discovering buying suits and brilliant dresses for the first time, and they want to make amendments or alterations and don’t know how”.

Simon Cantrill, one of the youngest contenders from The Great British Sowing Bee joined the discussion, about the local clothing industries. His father is a weaver in a Bradford cloth mill. Simon works as a museum assistant at the Bradford Industrial Museum where he gives demonstrations to the museum’s visitors. “It doesn’t make sense to people anymore that Bradford still makes cloth” says Simon. “The 1870s was about sowing cloths and making a good wage.

“With the improvement of power and technology the knowledge is taken away. It’s all the pressing of buttons and everything is being de-skilled. We demand better conditions and better pay but we do less for it”.

And what happens to clothes that we throw away? Depending on the material depends on its recyclability and if we give them to charity shops, they are sometimes given straight to the ‘rag merchant’. Who knew titles like that still existed! A lot goes into sofa stuffing and a lot of the charity bags we get through the door asking for clothes are businesses that sell the materials on. A lot of the manmade fibres can be separated out. Water bottles are polyester and can be used as installation in walls. Cotton actually has a greater environmental impact due to all the pesticides and water used in the growth of it, even though its biodegradable. It’s not automatically a good thing to go for bamboo either. It’s not entirely a natural product due to all the chemicals.

William Coe of Ipswich’s Coes has also been involved with METIS and has helped where he can. “Sizing is a bit of a corporate secret” Zoe laughs. “Trying to measure the people of Ipswich didn’t go down too well”.

Lucille Acevedo-Jones, costume designer to some of the biggest movies in the industry, showed us through buttons and pins how to make a dress out of shirts by draping them on a stand. With minimal stitching. In under 5 minutes. The results were incredible. And probably what you would class as fashionable.

METIS World Factor will have you thinking again about your life and clothes. As an art movement yes it works, but as an educational revolution is bursts with information.

You can invest in the making of and receive a shirt, either as an art piece or to wear, and at £35 it’s really not expensive.

For more information educate yourselves at http://digitalquilt.info/node.aspx and http://metisarts.co.uk/the-shirt/. Bianca Winters will also be talking about the project exclusively on the Mira Effect, Monday 19th June 3-5pm Mira Shareif on Radio Castle Framlingham.

Mira Shareif

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