Radical crafter Rayna Fahey has plenty of love for Braybrook, celebrating a diverse community with a lot of heart.
What is your connection with Braybrook?
I’ve been living in Braybrook with my family for 10 years. Our kids go to school here and we’re really involved in our local community through food, gardening and arts projects.
What do you love most about the area? Is there anything you would change?
I absolutely love the diversity in the western suburbs. Our family just returned from a six-month road trip around Australia and there is simply nothing like the rich tapestry of life here in the west. We have been relishing the food since we got back!
If I was to change anything, it would be to significantly invest in our young people. We have such a creative and visionary youth sector. Supporting them and their ideas would make this an even better place to live.
Do you have a favourite local place or places to spend time?
I love the Braybrook library and Braybrook Commons Community Garden – there’s always a friendly face around. Our neighbourhood is such a little village. I also love all the little back street shopping strips and cafes. Knowing the local business people and their families, and supporting their business, is so much nicer than visiting soulless mega-malls full of sweatshop-produced franchise boringness!
How did you become involved in crafting?
I’ve always been creative, but I took up textiles when I was pregnant with my first child. I love craft because it is so social and is a great way to bring people together.
When and why did that evolve into radical crafting and “seditious stitching”?
I’ve been a political activist for a lot longer than I’ve been a crafter, so as soon as I started crafting, I became a craftivist. Craft is not just a medium for creativity – it’s a way to change the world. In this rampant consumerist age, making your own clothes has become a political act. But craft can also be used to communicate radical and subversive ideas. Because craft is perceived as a benign activity, it can sidestep lines of authority, which can be enormously powerful.
What’s one of the most memorable projects you have developed?
The most significant local project was when I organised a bunch of people to cross-stitch “I wanna live here” on a prominent fence in Footscray as a protest against rampant land speculation. That project gained a huge amount of international attention and was a much-loved local artwork. I’m pleased to see, after about eight years, the land owner of that site has finally done something with it.
What is the idea behind your current project, Heart and Seek?
Heart and Seek is my little love letter to the west, which I missed a lot while we were away. But it’s also a response to the rapid rise in fear-based politics, both here and abroad. Having visited some incredibly monocultural communities on the road, I was struck by how plain and boring they all were. But back in Footscray, the colour and life is by far and away our greatest asset.
This vibrancy is something we should all celebrate and contribute to. Heart and Seek is a way for everyone to show their love for the place in which they live. Anyone can weave or stitch a small heart in their area – the important thing is opening your eyes to the things you love about your home town and celebrating those things.
Heart and Seek is taking place at various public sites across Footscray, including the little… No BIG gallery on Level 1, 119 Hopkins Street. Visit radicalcrossstitch.com for more information or to be involved.