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October 12, 2014 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

Couscous volcanoes and fragments of men

I think we need to start our own little rebellion in the midst of our seemingly normal everyday lives. I propose a Mad Makers Movement; this movement is about taking action as individuals to splash a bit of excitement into the day and sprinkle our evenings with imagination. It’s important to make, cook, fix, draw, reinvent and write things as much as we can so that we can see ourselves in things we have made other than in things we buy and consume.

Interestingly, a much older movement, the Arts and Crafts movement, was a reaction against the First Industrial Revolution (1760–1840). The arts-and-crafts types disliked (among other things) the way in which production had become a monotonous task for the industrial worker, devoid of any feeling or pride in the things being produced.  John Ruskin, a general artsy, writer, socialist type of the 19th century, inspired much of the Arts and Crafts movement. In The Stones of Venice (1853), he explains (very poetically) that the production process drains the maker of any sort of connection to the design and even to oneself: “[i]t is not, truly speaking the labor that is divided but the men – divided into mere segments of men – broken into small fragments and crumbs of life.”  Although clearly not as drastic, I think that in some sense, we can often all finish our day’s work feeling like fragments of men, and may feel a bit machine-like ourselves, constantly typing out essays on the computer, freely giving our time to social networks and draining away our energy into faceless industries online or at work. So I think it’s time we acted against this in a creative way: although different from the Arts and Crafts movement in many ways, the Mad Makers Movement acknowledges that being able to create something for yourself is much better than becoming a fragment of a man.

The charm of our consumerist world is that it feeds us but keeps us hungry, so how do we get a feeling of fulfilment? How can we make ourselves happier people? Well, of course, as the founder of the Mad Makers Movement, my resounding response is: “MAKE!” Whether it’s mad or normal, pink or blue, silly or serious; even if it comes out wonky or burnt! You don’t even have to set aside time in your day for it; you could just take a bit more care in something you already do, like that dinner you always cook. You could re-create it a little, make the couscous into a volcano with all the spicy bean lava spilling out the top (yes, I have done this, and yes, it was awesome); you could even just make your bed in a slightly different way, or even throw the covers off and make a fort.

As you come to the end of reading this, you may already be noticing the texture of the page, the way the corners fold so easily; what if you were to make a paper plane later or now? This Mad Makers Movement is so much more than craft and art: it’s about imagination and creation, creating anything you desire (even a movement). Manifest your emotions, desire, humour and passion in something you can hold, read or sing. Without these things, life would be pretty dull, so, to help you get started, I’ve made a fun list of ideas below to get you even more excited. Go forth and create!

  • Make a yoghurt-, muesli- and fruit-layered glass of awesomeness for breakfast (decorate the top however you see fit.)

  • Collect treasures throughout the day with the aim of making something with them when you get home (even if it’s ridiculous… that’s your day in an object!)

  • Rearrange your room in a new funky way; organise the objects according to height, colour or whatever you wish.

  • Write a letter, to your grandma, granddad, parents, children, grandchildren, friends, cat, fish. Write it on a paper bag, on a tag; add pictures, stamps or doodles.

  • Sew a useful little bag to put things in: a pencil case, a glasses case (use a design as simple or as complex as you want!)

  • Fix and even reinvent those old socks, those drawers or your lampshade.

  • PAINT!! Or, if you don’t like brushes, make stamps from potatoes, or use your fingers! Paint that masterpiece, flower pot or box!

  • Draw a picture of what a mad maker of the Mad Makers Movement would look like. (When you’re done, it doubles as a self-portrait!)

Ruth is a Media Studies and Culture and Context Design student. If she had to be anyone else she would be Ratty from Wind in the Willows.



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Comments (3)

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  1. Wendy Pembleton says:

    This article is so full of enthusiasm and oozes with creativity itself it cant help but inspire anyone to join the Mad Makers Movement and manifest thier inner fun loving selves. A big thanks to this wonderful young lady Ruth, who hopefully will go on to lead and encourage many people in whatever career she chooses.

  2. What a brilliant article! It makes me want to let my imagination run wild…(1) make a fort out of my bedsheets. What a beautiful way with words Ruth.

  3. oldbloke says:

    Love this! Create while you can before the corporate machine sucks you into creating within constraints and with a bit of a break you might just end up strong enough to resist it’s pull.

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