15 May 2024

Nutrient: (noun) a substance that provides nourishment essential for the maintenance of life & growth. 

Here are ours for this quarter - 


Worn - A People’s History of Clothing, 2023

I recently picked this up in a local bookshop, seduced on a whim by the title+subtitle+illustration combo, which must have been subliminally whispering “this one’s for you, Mil”

I’m glad I did - author Sofi Thanhauser is a Brooklyn-based artist and writer, whose lifelong passion for vintage clothing eventually led her to research a history of clothing through the lens of 5 key textiles.

From linen, cotton and silk through synthetics and finally back to wool, Worn charts the significance of each successive fabric technology, examining not only the innovations that made them possible, but the impact of each at socio-cultural, economic, environmental and even political level.

As someone who is now in the business of making ‘stuff’, it’s an uncomfortable read at times, because the underlying message is so clear (the clothing business is for the most part REALLY BAD for the environment, at a global level), but Worn doesn't feel ‘preachy’ because Thanhauser is clearly really interested in her subject. Her research involves spending time with people working in textile/clothing production across a broad range of scale, industry and location, and consequently the book unfolds like a richly annotated travelogue, where personal experiences and encounters serve as the entry point into a deeper exploration of the underlying context.

Informative but not overly academic in tone, Worn is recommended for anyone interested in the intersection of material culture and social history.

Or who has never really thought about who made their clothes, how and where they are made, and why?


Instant Whip - Fraser Taylor Textiles & Papers 1977-87

We met Fraser Taylor when we were both invited (amongst others) to participate in a runway show at the V&A Dundee as part of the Scotland Re:Design festival in 2021. His distinctive, bold brush-work (mostly undertaken in a striking monochrome palette) was tailored into amazing garments by collaborator Franz Maggs, and was the standout presentation for me by far. (Amusingly, the entire collection ended up on hangers at our flat for several weeks following the show, so obviously I had the chance to try everything on, which was very fun - 4 sleeved shirts etc)

Only after the show did I put two and two together and realise that this Fraser Taylor was the same man responsible for the artwork of several records from my own ‘80s teenage vinyl collection - The Bluebells, Friends Again, Altered Images … Spandau Ballet! - and member of 'hot' design collective The Cloth, who during their brief existence 1983-87 did exciting work across fashion, interior, packaging and graphic design.

The Instant Whip exhibition at Glasgow School of Art's Reid Gallery was put together by the consistently excellent Glasgow-based curatorial team Panel and GSA's programme leader for Textiles, Helena Britt, and featured a huge collection of Fraser's early work  - including original textile samples as well as his art school sketchbooks & personal photos from that time, much presumed 'lost' for years! - and complemented by a display of his more recent work, which is produced under the studio moniker HAXTON.

It was a great pleasure to join the opening night celebration and spend time enjoying the work, beautifully presented, which was essentially a joyful roadmap for how to properly 'do' Art School - work hard and play hard, take risks and grasp every opportunity that comes your way.

I am sorry to say that the exhibition here is now finished, but there may well be some copies of the excellent 'catalogue' available from the Panel shop, which is to be recommended - diverse, fun, informative visual essays from a number of contributors, and featuring Fraser's fabulously eclectic playlist which I think its ok to share with you here. Standout discovery for me was Gina X... No GDM. Why have I never heard this before?! 

If you like the European delivery and bass groove thing, check out Lizzy Mercier Descloux's 1981 album Mambo Nassau, made with Wally Badarou (Grace Jones, Talking Heads, Sly & Robbie, Tom Tom Club... get the picture?)



Learning to Ground 

Recently I’ve been GROUNDING myself on various levels. As a naturally type A personality, this is something I’m learning to build into life / make time for as I get older, and it is 100% nourishing as you probably know….

It began with a solo trip to my paternal grandmother’s county in Ireland to connect with family; a journey that had been on my mind for some time. At the start of the year I was reading the book If Women Rose Rooted "A life-changing journey from the wasteland of modern society to a place of nourishment and connection", gifted to me by my friend Mhairi. When I reached chapter 5 (check) there was an image of Oweynagat Cave in Roscommon - my granny’s county - where (no offence relatives!) nothing much happens: it’s not on the tourist route and feels untouched by the "Celtic Tiger”. It was a sign - I had to go back, for the first time since I was around 7… 

Jolene aged 7 with her paternal granny (L) at the home of her great uncle in County Roscommon

On the ferry from Scotland to Belfast I re-read the chapter with a growing sense of excitement: it felt as if this pilgrimage and the fate of our business were deeply entwined. Blackie talks of deep caves as the cauldron of transformation… “you are in a tunnel, a birth canal, and you are slipping down it into the silent, dark womb of the earth” …this rebirth is at the heart of the heroine’s journey; it catapults us into new ways of seeing, new ways of being in and of the world.

I rolled off the ferry in our Fiat Panda in the drizzling February rain, winding my way through villages and towns. I was delighted when the road signs became bilingual and the air smelled of peat (I know, I know…), and the sun broke through. When I saw the sign for Strokestown I wept and wept, for my granny who had left a life of poverty in rural island aged 19 to join the war effort in London, then had a catastrophic stroke when I was 13, for my father who was a tortured soul, and for myself for continuing on a journey of self development, connection and learning to trust & flow.

The next day I plugged the co-ordinates of the cave (or “vagina cave” as I was calling it, as it resembles the birth canal of the earth) into my sat-nav and arrived at a dead-end farm track. I  changed into my full waterproofs and, clutching my torch, began crawling on my hands and knees in the mud for about 5 metres, before taking a left turn which dropped down steeply into the belly of the cave. I switched off my torch and realised I’d never experienced real darkness before. I touched my head against the side of the cave and listened. I had done it. I can do this. We can do this. 


My tools for grounding / rituals 

  • Book that inspires ritual as part of daily life / life practice: Patti Smith’s M Train 
  • Therapist who has taught me lots about grounding (and much more): Roberta Weber 
  • Purple Diamond Tarot helped me build my first altar for our business, which features my Irish Granny. One to one reading highly recommended but loads of generous resources on Arizona's instagram + mailing list. 
  • Feminine Code Business School. A total game changer for me, but more on this in another Nutrient, as I’m still digesting it. 

Nourishing Read 

 I love the writing & art of Annie Fusco / Lord Cowboy, who I probably found via @notthekind who is my general life guru. This article on the creative independent website is so beautiful, and so much of it resonated (anyone else googling rebounder trampoline?) 

"I think if someone asked me, 'Okay, what do I need to know?' I would just say, you’ll need more time than you think for everything. It takes time to really feel into what you’re doing and creating and get into a flow."