In 2020 Sarah Green was awarded her Doctorate from The School of the Arts, English and Drama at Loughborough University. Her research examined the wellbeing benefits of textile crafting for men experiencing vulnerabilities. As part of her practice-based research she established the ManCraft group, a community-based textile craft group for men.
Sarah completed MA Art in the Public Sphere, Loughborough University in 2014. Her MA research focused on the use of textile craft practices for activist action, termed Craftivism. She became increasingly interested in the community building aspects of textile crafting and sought the opportunity to gain experience as a community-based practitioner with Charnwood Arts, a local arts organisation based in Loughborough.
After graduating from the MA Sarah continued her collaborative work with Charnwood Arts as project co-ordinator for ‘Our Knitted Story’, a year-long project which involved working with a number of community groups across Leicestershire and invited contribution from 1st year textile students from Loughborough University. Sarah also acted as a regional partner for the Craftivist Garden #wellMAKING project in 2014, a collaboration between Falmouth University, The Craftivist Collective, Voluntary Arts and Arts for Health Cornwall, which aimed to raise awareness of wellbeing through sewing, http://projects.falmouth.ac.uk/craftivistgarden/category/charnwood-arts/.
In 2010 Sarah graduated from Loughborough University with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art.
Practice-based PhD Research 2015-2020
ManCraft: Textile crafting and dialogue in facilitating a wellbeing group for men experiencing vulnerabilities.
The research examined the complex facilitation of wellbeing through Facilitatory Arts Practice, focusing on the therapeutic use of textile craft processes. The focus for the study was ManCraft, a community-based textile craft group for men experiencing vulnerabilities. The research advocates for ‘ability’ as a key aspect of the participants’ experiences of wellbeing and argues for the inclusion of the participants in discussions about their own wellbeing.
During the practice textile crafting provided the participants with opportunities to discover their abilities through purposeful ‘doing’, intense concentration in a task and a tangible reward. The physical engagement in textile crafting facilitated different dimensions of dialogue including storytelling and self-reflection, demonstrating that what is important to generating wellbeing in these settings is finding subtle ways of instigating dialogue.
The practice has shown that textile crafting facilitates the relationships within the group and what is significant about this process is the accumulation of ‘little’ exchanges and the empowerment of people experiencing vulnerabilities. The ManCraft participants’ identified that being able to positively contribute to other peoples’ lives through these ‘little’ exchanges, is a significant wellbeing practice that positively contributes to their individual sense of ability. The Arts and Wellbeing Facilitators’ non-judgemental, flexible and dialogical approach provides the participants with opportunities to lead workshop activities, feel heard and valued, as well as improve communication and social skills.
‘It’s like playing mind craft. Your body switches off and you can let your mind wander. Only your hands are doing something instead of just pressing buttons on a control. As soon as I start thinking about it, I stab myself with the needle.’
ManCraft was a community-based textile craft group for men. Established by Sarah Green as part of her practice-based PhD research at Loughborough University.
Super Crochet Girl
‘Super Crochet Girl allowed me to engage in conversation with people in public in an unthreatening and comical fashion.’
Sarah Green is the artist behind Super Crochet Girls creation. The alter ego was developed as part of her MA, which was concerned with exploring the effectiveness of craft as a political and activist tool. Super Crochet Girl was designed using materials and skills not often associated with super heroes, such as yarn and crochet. Designed originally for a poster exploring the relationship between comic books and public sphere theory. The persona later developed into a performative means of exploring the effectiveness of textile crafts use for activist purposes.
Not content with leaving artworks in the public realm to instigate discourse, the artist instead drew inspiration from other artists such as Lisa Anne Auerbach, who designs, knits and then wears ‘protest’ jumpers and other apparel, adorned with text that makes political comment.
‘The traditional role of a Super Hero is to protect and serve the citizens and Super Crochet Girl proudly follows this tradition. But she does it through knitting, crochet and impromptu dialogue’ (Syston Town News 2014).
As the character amalgamated two gender stereotyped hobbies, crochet and comic books, dialogue with the public tended to revolve around this aspect, ultimately questioning the traditional role of the superhero and how quiet past times, such as crochet, could be seen as a super power.