de S+oplap
July 10 - October 31 2019

de S+oplap,
an exercise in liberation
and constraint

Fascinated by the beauty and skills behind Dutch darning samplers designer Sanne van de Goor created the community-oriented project, de S+oplap. A project where she connects the history of darning samplers with present Amsterdam.

The project begins with the ‘stoplap’, a Dutch term for the ‘darning sampler’, which young girls (between 12 and 15 years old) created in order to practice a variety of needlework techniques and darning stitches. The stoplap was common between the 17th and 20th century, and functioned as a tool to teach women, especially orphans, a trade that would allow them to earn money independently by repairing clothing. The very nature of the stoplap, as a space for both precision and imperfection, is at the heart of this project. Patches that were stitched too far to the left; patches that didn’t quite fit; patches that were never finished at all.

The practice of patching, of repair, of closing holes, was done in adolescence as a way to gain economic and personal independence. These pieces of handwork and their symbolism—embodying perfection and imperfection simultaneously—can be extended beyond their historical moment to the current generation of girls in Amsterdam. Taking place in Nieuw-West, this project takes the stoplap as the metaphor for talking about independence, individuality, and imperfection with teenage girls. What does independence mean in 2019? How do you disconnect and connect in the age of social media? Can we talk about puberty and maturing through the act of patching and repairing?

The central elements of this project are long pieces of fabric which are printed with a graphic pattern inspired by old darning samplers—comprised of gaps and holes, these new patterns are a contemporary translation of a stoplap. Over the course of a series of working sessions at New Metropolis in Nieuw-West, teenage girls from the neighborhood are asked to restore the incomplete prints. Working within the parameters of the project, the girls fill the ‘gap’ by drawing in their own way. The print encourages them to continue drawing but also gives room for their own creativity—to break loose from the pattern and take their own direction.

Historically, handicrafts were often done in groups, with girls sitting together to work, but also to discuss and analyse—the repetitive and calm work of mending leading the conversation. During the S+oplap sessions, the conversations between the girls are recorded as a sound document and form the basis for an installation consisting of the audio recordings, the ‘repaired’ prints, and the original darning samplers. The physical patches, with their myriad of stitches and repairs, visually manifest the connections between the girls, who all come from different backgrounds but live in the same neighborhood in Nieuw-West. The very act of doing manual work together and conversing acts as a catalyst, opening up space for making connections—between one another, between the past and the present, between the mended and that which still needs repair.

The installation—consisting of the six large collaborative patches and the documented conversations—was on display at New Metropolis in 2019 for four months. The large windows of New Metropolis gave access to the work from the street.
    The conversations are still available via podcast for listening. 

The exhibition ended October 31 st 2019

Listen to the conversations (in Dutch):

Or listen at:
Spotify, Itunes or Radio Public

Sanne van de Goor (1985) is a designer based in Amsterdam. Since finishing her studies in Graphic Design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie she has been working as an independent designer on both self-initiated and commissioned projects.             Fascinated by the underlying rules that create a structure and the potentiality to generate an unpredictable outcome from a rule-based system, Sanne uses constraints as a means of triggering ideas and inspiration.
   Sanne combines graphic, interactive, and social-artistic elements. Her work embodies the tension between precision and randomness, chaos and control. Her pattern design is often influenced by participatory practices.

For questions or more information:

Sound production: Chris Rijksen / Photography studio: Masha Bakker / Reportage photography: Patricia Wolf / Text: Margarita Osipian / Advice marketing: Makerting Pictures darning samplers: Amsterdam Museum and private collection Berthi Smith-Sanders
This project was generously supported by Amsterdams Fonds voor de Kunst and Creative Industries Fund NL.