String figures --- a thousand tethered knots between you and me

“String figures” was born from a desire to tether in physical form the ineffable nature of the love and connection we extend for others and ourselves. An exercise in making space for others, each photograph was crafted from conversations centered in practices of care, and ultimately materialised through “speculative fabulations” of string arrangements. 

Dolly, Hugo, Mike, Ahmira, Priya, Ejatu, Alayo and Fikayo embarked on a journey that prioritised rest, empathy and intimacy as radical acts in a world where connection is increasingly commodified and quantified. Using 1000m of twine, the materiality of string acts as a site of learning where and how we intersect and entangle with those around us. 

This collaborative and embodied approach to mending asks us to find joy in seeing and being seen, in moving slowly, in being uncertain and in sharing space. The project sprung from frustration with the Barbican’s response to Barbican Stories. With the need to carefully approach issues of reparative justice, this provides a methodology for connecting authentically and restfully with others, allowing us to string together new figurations of the future.

Fikayo, Tethered knot 

I feel most comforted on long journeys and in places with high ceilings where you can seize just a tiny grasp on infinity, experience the vast expanse of time and space neatly contained within an hour or a room. Tiny as we are in this grand scheme of things, there is so much beauty in the way we are able to entangle ourselves in each other’s lives. To create networks and communities that radiate love and light and warmth as we drift together into the unknown, into futures we imagine for ourselves.

But what room have I left to secure myself within my own body, mind and being? To hold a thousand tethered knots for others is a beautiful thing, as is the space you leave for your own string figure.

Freeform knot . Colonial knot . Back stitch . Stem stitch

Dolly, Friend

There are feelings too big to put into words - but when it comes to other people there is joy in seeing, and being seen, of knowing and being known. Connection can be a quiet and understated thing

Freeform knot . Pearl knot . Sword stitch . Stem stitch . Coral stitch

Ejatu, Someone to Look Ahead To

Not knowing the full picture is a blesssing. You find yourself with the space for reinvention and surrender yourself to the process. You find constants in other people. People who tether you to the timelines of the many journeys you will face in the world, but give you the space to experience the full spectrum of your being.

Freeform knot . French knot . Back stitch . Coral stitch

Alayo, Sister Outsider 

When you find sisters in the borderlands you begin the transformation of the spaces you inhabit, and those that seek to inhibit.

We are carved from the same stone, cut from the same cloth, and carry with us the same wonderous vision of what could be. We find ourselves alone together against the loud murmurings of institutions that were not built for us, and we take each other up to build our own.

Freeform knot . colonial knot . Back stitch . Coral stitch . Stem stitch

Hugo, Undefined 

The ability to see yourself for who you are and what you want is a journey with no clear end, because things are not so easily defined or contained. There is fear in uncertainty but the desire to constantly evolve, to constantly remain in flux, is what you need to stand definitely against the unknown.

Freeform knot

Priya, More than Just Strangers

To move slowly is to move with compassion, to center your body’s need for rest above all. From the center also springs love, an abundant source that is replenished by others as it flows and fills. You desire wholeness, you desire to be seen in the world.

But what does desire mean?

To feel at once grounded and at once light, creating new meanings for yourself as you dance your own way to what is destined for you. To be heard, witnessed and reflected should be an easeful and playful thing.

Freeform knot . Indian Edging knot . Colonial knot

Mike and Ahmira, Collaborators 

When you exist in space together with someone who feels like home - like joy, llike warmth - the love you build filters slowly into the room like sunlight until it reaches every quiet corner.

Freeform knot . Indian Edging knot . Coral stitch . Stem stitch

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