Sarah Corbett on stitching and activism

02.12.20. Internet

Sarah Corbett is an award-winning campaigner and author. She began her career in activism at the ripe old age of three and went on to have a successful career working for NGOs including Christian Aid, Oxfam and the UK Government Department for International Development.

However, her life took a different turn in 2009, when she created the Craftivist Collective, which champions ‘gentle protesting’ and ‘slow activism’, often using stitching and embroidery as a fundamental part of its process.

Since then the organisation has grown in size and has thousands of members, while Sarah has delivered talks and lectures around the globe, launched a slew of successful campaigns and worked with the likes of the V&A, Secret Cinema and Unicef. She has also done a TEDx talk that has been seen by more than a million people.

In this episode we talk about: the art and strategy behind gentle protesting; why she became disillusioned with traditional forms of activism; picking up her first cross-stitch kit; the importance of beauty; successfully lobbying the board of M&S; and her problem with Pussyhats. 

The image above is by Robin Prime.

Find out more about Sarah Corbett

The Craftivist Collective created a campaign to persuade M&S to pay the living wage for all its staff by presenting the company’s board members with a handkerchiefs. Each contained an individual, stitched message. Image: Robin Prime.

Another tactic is the ‘shop-drop’, where tiny scrolls are placed into the pockets of clothes in stores, asking potential customers to think about the ethics behind the garment’s making. Image: Jonathan Cherry.

Sarah used a Barbie to provoke conversations about gender inequality. Image: Robin Prime.

An anti-violence message from a famous movie director known for his iconic and, often, bloody movies. All images courtesy of the Craftivist Collective.