Residents showcase their ‘Wear It Out’ sustainable clothing creations

Residents pose proudly with their creations

Lewisham Homes residents took part in an exhibition about sustainability, fashion and the power of memories at the Old Town Hall last weekend.

The ‘Wear It Out’ exhibition featured the results of a collaboration between Lewisham Homes and Make Mee Studio, as part of the Albany and Entelechy ArtsFestival of Creative Ageing.

One of the starting points for the project was sustainability. Sobering statistics featured included that as a planet, we are currently using 1.7 times our resources. This means we need to rethink our attitudes to using and reusing materials – with clothing one of the most important targets, with a single cotton t-shirt requiring 2500 litres of water to manufacture.

The exhibition showcased re-used garments put together by residents from our Independent Living schemes, our sheltered housing for older residents in the borough. Here, the importance of clothing in our memories and personal lives was a key focus. Our favourite garments can bring back memories of friends, family, places and events that may otherwise seem distant. Each exhibit featured an interview with the resident involved, and explained what it meant to them. For example, Cynthia explained how her coat reminded her of her friend Willow.

Relatives and friends got a chance to listen to Cynthia’s voice

The residents’ changing needs through life were also reflected in the adaptations. Elaine’s long skirt was her husband’s favourite, but was designed to be worn with high heels which she can no longer manage. Working with the Make Mee team, she adapted the skirt to give it a new lease of life.

Several of the exhibits included recordings of the residents explaining what the clothes mean to them, and a few were on hand to meet visitors to the exhibition. There was also a chance for viewers to learn more about sewing and have a go themselves thanks to Make Mee Studio.

Visitors got a chance to have a go at sewing

It wasn’t just the older generation that took part in the exhibition, with children from a local school also explaining what their favourite items of clothing meant to them. The striking thing was how similar their experiences were to those of the older residents. One child explained how their top ‘reminds me of my favourite cousin’ (from whom they inherited it). The other words used by the children – ‘happy’, ‘powerful’, ‘excited’, ‘special’, and more – also put one in mind of the Independent Living residents.

The Festival culminates in the Age Against the Machine Grand Finale on Sunday 6 October at the Laban Building in Deptford. If you didn’t get a chance to bring along broken or forgotten items to mend and update at the exhibition, sewing teachers from Make Mee Studio will be on hand running a FREE drop in mending workshop all day. Bring along something that is broken or you no longer wear and they will help you update and fix it. For more information, click here.

Lewisham Homes staff welcome residents and visitors