Creative Dundee

Wee Wardrobe

19th February, 1:00pm at Wellgate Centre, Dundee

Identity created by Tommy Perman, using Bespoke Stencil from Font Share.

CULTIVATE Creative Practitioner, Jade Anderson, invites you to celebrate the stories that our clothes hold at Wee Wardrobe—a week-long event in the Wellgate Centre.  

CULTIVATE is a regional leadership programme for Creative Practitioners and Local Communities to collaboratively explore new ways of embedding creativity at the core of grassroots collective action for climate justice, across the Tay region. Read more about the programme’s ambition and progress in this blog.

From Sat 19 – Fri 25 February, Jade will be hosting an exhibition of work by groups she’s worked with, a pop-up community wardrobe and plenty of other activities to take part in at the Wellgate Centre. Jade also tells us more about her collaboration with the Gate Church Carbon Saving Project and the various community groups she connected with across the city.

Wee Wardrobe is a week-long event to showcase all of the work created over the past six months of CULTIVATE in the Oor Stories exhibition, as well as hosting a pop-up version of Gate Church Carbon Saving Project’s Community Wardrobe called Ab’dy’s Wardrobe, where people can come along and take away any clothes they like for free. There will be a communal area full of activities to get you thinking about how you can use scrap material, or where you can just sit down and have a good blether over a cup of tea.

You’ll also be able to sign-up in person to receive a Wee Wardrobe Starter Pack, which includes a clothes rail, hangers and four simple steps to help you run a small shared wardrobe in your community space!

The event will take place in the ScrapAntics space on Level 2 of the Wellgate Centre, and will be open to the public from Sat 19 February (1-4pm), then Sun 20 – Fri 25 February (11-4 pm).

There will be drop-in activities running all week, which include:

  • Bookmark Making: three simple steps to creating your own bookmark out of scrap fabric.
  • Make Your Own T-shirt Bag: four simple steps to turn an old T-shirt into a wee bag. No sewing required.
  • DIY Scrap Fabric Garland: pick your twine, grab some fabric scraps and make a beautiful decorative garland for your home.
  • Community Bunting: add to our beautiful community bunting created for us by Just Bee’s Nethergate Crafters!

More drop-in activities running at specific times – to be confirmed soon:

  • Knit and Natter: come along and pick up some needles and wool, and try your hand a knitting while having a good blether.
    • Sat 19 Feb, 2-3pm
    • Thu 24 Feb, 3-4pm
  • Mending Cafe: got something that needs mending or just want to learn how to fix things? Come along to our mending cafe to learn some basics and have a go on the sewing machines. Either bring something of your own that needs mending or take something from our mending pile to practice.
    • Mon 21 Feb, 1-3pm
    • Wed 23 Feb, 2.30-4pm
  • Children’s Story Time: need to rest your feet for a minute and keep the wee one entertained? Pop along to our drop-in story time and have a cuppa while we read them a story.
    • Sun 20 – Fri 25 Feb, 11-12noon

Booking required:

  • Storytelling Workshops: always fancied having a go at creating your own stories? Come along to our storytelling workshops and learn how to turn a boring old T-shirt into a fantastical tale!
    • Sat 19 Feb, 1-2pm (age 5-9)
    • Sun 20 Feb, 1-2pm (age 10-15)
    • Tue 22 Feb, 2-3pm (age 16+)
    • Fri 25 Feb, 1-2pm (age 16+)
  • Make Your Own Denim Draft Excluder: learn how to turn that old pair of jeans into a lovely draft excluder to help keep your home extra cosy!
    • Fri 25 Feb, 2-3pm
  • Wreath Making: come along and make your own beautiful scrap fabric wreath to decorate your home.
    • Sun 20 Feb, 2-3pm

All activities are FREE! To book for the Storytelling, Make Your Own Denim Draft Excluder, or Wreath Making Workshops, please get in touch with Jade!

Event accessibility:

  • The space will be set up in a way that there will be plenty of space to move between each area/activity.
  • The walls will be covered with fabric to minimise echo in the space.
  • There will be actors present in the space at all time, who can read printed material out loud for you.
  • There will be headphones for each video station.
  • There will be masks and hand-sanitising liquid available on site.

The Community Wardrobe opened its doors in October 2020, with two principles: to keep the mountains of clothes donated to the project out of landfill, whilst making free clothes available to those in need in the most dignified way possible. With the aim to encourage a culture of wearing second hand clothes, and inspire new shopping habits, they wanted to offer an alternative to the culture of fast fashion.

As time went on, and the clothes kept coming, the staff realised that they needed to do more, so they began encouraging visitors to turn those clothes into something else—so T-shirts became bags, pretty fabric was used to make bookmarks, and scraps were turned into brooches and wreaths.

In the last year, the Community Wardrobe gave out 1,850kg of clothes to 901 people—a saving of 42.4 tonnes CO2e, which is the equivalent of taking 9,134 cars off the road.

Since last summer, I’ve been volunteering as often as I can with the Community Wardrobe. It was not only a great way to see first hand the incredible hard work that is put into the project and how much it’s benefitting the local community—it was a lot of fun getting to sort through donations, help people find things for a special occasion and just have really good blethers. 

Helping out in their space and at various events—like the launch of Dundee’s COP26 Events programme in Slessor Gardens, where we got to share some fun and simple upcycling workshops before being visited by the giant Storm—it was clear to me from the get-go that the most important elements of the work I was to produce to reflect on what the wardrobe does best would be COMMUNITY and STORIES.

So I have spent the last six months working with a variety of different community groups and organisations around Dundee, delivering workshops that had us think about our clothes a little more and discover the memories they had gathered along the way. You may just get up and throw a jumper on without thinking, but what happens if you take a moment to remember when you bought or received it, and why? When was the last time you wore it? What were you doing? What was the weather like? How did you feel? Soon you have a whole wealth of memories. We then used these items of clothing as a stimulus to create brand new stories that could be as mundane or as wild as we please. These stories were then translated in different ways depending on the groups: we have some films, poems, written stories and monologues, and all of this work will be brought together and put on display at our final event.

As for the future?

As its government funding comes to an end in April 2022, the Gate Church Carbon Saving Project will become Transition Dundee and the Community Wardrobe will move to a shop on the Nethergate. While the shop will need to pay its way, there will be a charge for those who can afford it, as well as free clothes available to all who need them, with no judgement nor questions asked. There will also be workshops, events and community groups getting together around the topic of textile waste and what we can all do to avoid and reduce it.

This project is such a great example of one that has established itself in the community without being complacent. The team is always seeking new ways to reach out to more people and to expand on the work they do. All being well, there will be a corner in the shop for repairs and a space to sell upcycled items, and at all times it will be a place where people can exchange ideas and expand their knowledge. It will be a place of hope!

Read more about Jade’s collaboration with the Gate Church Carbon Saving Project in this guest blog: Theatre, Healing and Community.

Very special thanks to:

Wellbeing Works, Community Tool Box

Boomerang, Reminiscence Group

Hot Chocolate Trust

Just Bee, Nethergate Crafters

Feeling Strong, Arts Hub & Eco Anxiety

Stand Easy Productions

Dundee Rep Engage, 11-13’s Youth Theatre

ScrapAntics (Venue & Support)

Serendipities (Catering)

CULTIVATE is a pilot project, which engages communities with Climate Justice through creativity and peer-education. We’ll be sharing more insights into each of our first six Creative Practitioner commissions over the coming months.

Creative Dundee is part of Culture Collective, a network of 26 participatory arts projects, shaped by local communities alongside artists and creative organisations. Funded by Scottish Government emergency COVID-19 funds through Creative Scotland.

The Culture Collective programme has the potential to place creative practise right at the heart of a just transition and help shape the future of local cultural life, which will impact massively the way we embrace creativity and culture in Scotland.

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