There’s a long history in sailing and, in the Royal Canadian Navy, of repair and reuse, mostly due to necessity. For the Maritime Museum of BC, an exhibition called Darn It! connects that history to the contemporary sustainability movement. The museum wanted to draw on the past to connect it to the present. In BC that sustainability piece is high on everybody’s mind.
Thanks to Collections & Exhibits Manager, Heather Feeney, I had the opportunity to tour the exhibition virtually from the East Coast; she shared photos and video with me, and her wealth of knowledge about the exhibition and the Maritime Museum of BC’s collection. Artifacts and items of interest are displayed in large honey-coloured antique display cases at the museum, giving them a very warm and inviting feel.
Once you get past the intro case that provides an overview, the exhibition dives into the history of net weaving and sail repair, stretching from long before recorded time to the present, exploring how those traditional techniques have been transformed. Feeney notes that from a sustainability standpoint, the way modern nets are made has taken a step back in many regards. They don’t biodegrade the way old ones did. The exhibit features a number of net-making needles and twine that would have been used to make repairs, extending the life of a net, reducing waste and the net’s impact on the environment. The display also includes sail repair kits, which sailors would have had on their vessels. The one that they have as part of Darn It! is in a gorgeous bag, very much like a doctor’s bag. And the bag itself has been repaired with sail twine, using the same techniques as those used to repair sails.
All images provided by the Maritime Museum of BC.