Established in 2018, Repair Acts initially took the form of three of three network meetings and workshops with partners in Bristol, New Delhi and Bristol and New Delhi (March 2018 hosted by School of Art and Design and Digital Cultures Research Centre, Bristol and Toxics Link, New Delhi) and Penryn (October 2018 hosted by University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute). With a closing one-day symposium and month long exhibition at Bristol’s centre for sustainability CREATE in March 2019.
The programme brought together local, national and international guests working on topics relating to repair, care and maintenance cultures. Broadly these cultures focus on applied, artistic, scholarly and civic practices, which deal with the care, upkeep, maintenance and reuse of objects, materials, buildings, systems and processes.
The programme was initially funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), UK under the Network grant scheme and led by Professor of City Futures, Teresa Dillon in collaboration within Professor Caitlin DeSilvey, Professor of Cultural Geography, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn and Toxics Link, India.
Curated by Steven Bond as part of the Penryn activities, the “Visible Mending” exhibition drew on the previous AHRC-funded project ‘Small is Beautiful? Visual and Material Cultures of Making and Mending’, led by Caitlin DeSilvey (PI, University of Exeter and James R. Ryan (Co-I), Royal College of Art (2010–12).
Joining this team, photographer Bond set out to find, visit and document workplaces in the South West where people fix broken things. The project resulted in an on-line portfolio (A Celebration of Repair) and a publication (Visible Mending, Uniformbooks, 2013).
With support from the ESI Creative Exchange Programme, Bond curated an exhibition of work from the earlier project, designing for Repair Acts a newspaper showcasing some of the imagery from the original project and providing an update on where the workplaces find themselves now.