Tell a story. No, not that one.

14 12 2010

I discovered Sheena Matheiken’s Uniform Project while reading the colour supplements this weekend, and was hooked. I love Matheiken’s inventive sense of fashion, I won’t lie, but I also loved how she took a difficult, complex agenda and hooked it into such a simple narrative.

Sheena Matheiken, The Uniform Project

Matheiken has taken a complex agenda that, let’s face it, we don’t always want to engage with – the waste and repetition of fashion – and created a story, spun out over an entire year; more than that, a project and we could participate in with her. Could she do it – wear the same dress – every day for a year? Could we help? I often feel frustrated by what feels like the sheer hopelessless of the environmental agenda, and Matheiken’s framing of this issue highlights, in a small way, the endless resource of ingenuity she has at her disposal to address the problem. So much that we know about our brains tells us how they are organised around stories; stories create meaning out of chaos, give us the pattern for what actions we need to take.

Is this reductionist? Maybe. It’s a long way from actually solving the problem. But she’s inspired me to take another look at my wardrobe, and dozens, if not hundreds, into following her example for a month if not a year. And the next time I’m trying to break down a big, intractable problem into something understandable, compelling, and inspiring, I dare say I’ll ask myself how I could make a Uniform Project out of it.

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