Three months, three exhibitions

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

There's been a sudden rush of activity on the exhibition front!

Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood

On 19 September, the fantastic Knitwear: Chanel to Westwood exhibition opened at the Fashion & Textile Museum in Bermondsey, London. The main exhibition is an incredible showcase of twentieth century knitwear, featuring not only work by big name designers, but also popular vernacular styles (such as a display of beautiful Fair Isle jumpers). Sitting alongside is the Visionary Knitwear display, curated by Sandy Black, a 'showcase of bold visions in contemporary fashion knitwear' - including my stitch-hacked piece, St Michael - 12 - 40 (shown, in situ, above).

I highly recommend the exhibition for all knitwear fans! It runs until 18 January 2015, and visitor information can be found here.

Brave Fixed World

Soon after attending the private view of the Knitwear exhibition, I was packing up work for another display - this time in Poland, part of Łódź Design Festival. The exhibition is called Brave Fixed World, and is curated by Daniel Charny (known for his fantastic Power of Making exhibition at the V&A in 2011). I'm sad that I won't get to see the exhibition, because it sounds great! Here's the introductory blurb:

The world we live in is shaped by the heroic successes of mechanisation and mass-production. The democratisation of access to goods and improved quality of life brought about by industrial production has come at a price. While the abundance of cheap standardised products strain our environment, we are distanced from the experience of making, so leaving many with the limited choices of buying new or doing nothing. This ‘Brave New World’ needs fixing.

The Gallery element looks at ‘fixes’ covering a range of activities ... fom these examples the Fixhub invites debate and speculation on what our world may be like if fixing became the norm? What if it became a legal imperative or a sweeping social movement? 

The exhibition runs from 10 to 19 October, and will feature my re-knitting work: the 'spectrum' diagram (which shows an array of re-knitting options), the 'tester' jumper showing five different treatments, and my first ever stitch-hacked piece, 'Who Made This?'.

Knitting Nottingham

Hot on the heels of the exhibition in Poland is Knitting Nottingham, an exhibition at Nottingham Trent University's Bonington Gallery which explores 'new knitting directions and technologies, which challenge current knit practice and offer future-focused ideas'. It celebrates Nottingham Trent University’s 170 years of knitting education, design and research.

Once again I'll be showcasing my re-knitting 'spectrum' diagram, my PhD 'tester' jumper, and a different stitch-hacked piece: ATH + Jayfor.

Knitting Nottingham runs from 6 to 28 November (plus a preview evening on 5 November), and is free to attend. Visitor information can be found here

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10 years of Keep & Share!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Well, it's taken me a couple of weeks to get round to blogging - but I'm pleased to confirm that on 21 August we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Keep & Share with a fab party at London knitting hub Prick Your Finger.

The party incorporated a number of celebratory activities:

  • An exhibition of Keep & Share knitwear from the archive (click here to see the pieces on show, in the store section) and my PhD re-knitting 'tester' jumper
  • Plus two new pieces: The Backbone of Britain and Knitting Circle tags 2011-13 (follow the links to find out more)
  • I gave a talk about my work over the past decade (which I recorded - click here to watch)
  • And launched a 16-page pamphlet telling the story of the first ten years of Keep & Share (click here to download the pdf or request a hard copy)

It was a lovely do - thanks to everyone who came! And a massive thank you to Rachael Matthews of Prick Your Finger for hosting the party and exhibition!

You can read Rachael's blog post about the party here, and a post by Sarah Klymkiw on the TRAID blog here.

The exhibition will be up until Saturday 20 September, so you've still got a couple of weeks to check it out...

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Celebrating ten years: the Backbone of Britain

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yesterday I popped into knit mecca Prick Your Finger in Bethnal Green to firm up my exhibition-and-celebration plans with the lovely Rachael Matthews. We're celebrating ten years (to the day) of Keep & Share, with a party next Thursday. The exhibition will stay up for a month or so, including a range of pieces from the Keep & Share archive, plus a new work called The Backbone of Britain.

This work comes with a story.

It is made from a collection of twenty cardigans which my dad found stashed in a chest of drawers when he was clearing out my great aunt's house - hand knitted, seemingly unworn, all acrylic. Within the collection, there is a range of styles - although there are multiple versions of several patterns, knitted in different colours and sizes. We think my nana, Gladys (Auntie Alice's sister), knitted them - but can't be sure, as she died a few years before they were found. My nana was a prolific knitter, and taught me to knit when I was little, so this pile of cardigans felt emotionally significant, as well as representing a staggering amount of effort.

For obvious reasons, I ended up with this collection of cardigans. I didn't feel a desire to wear any of them - despite my cardigan fetish, I don't 'do' acrylic - but didn't feel I could get rid of them either. So, for years they were stashed away in a cupboard, and each time I saw them, I felt guilty.

Last autumn I reorganised the studio, and the cardigans re-emerged from the cupboard. Still, I didn't know what to do with them. The huge pile of knitting continued to lurk, as I shifted it from surface to surface in the studio. The cardigans needed to be resolved!

A little later in the autumn, I met my wonderful friend Celia Pym, told her about the cardigans and asked for her help. Celia - accompanied by Rachael - came to visit me in Hereford on a gloriously sunny day. We drank tea and ate cake and looked at the cardigans together... talked about them... played with them. As you will see in the photos, the weight of all this skill and time and effort weighed heavily on our shoulders for a while! (That's Celia with her head in her hands.) But as we talked and played, a plan began to emerge. The cardigans organised themselves into a new form which will be unveiled at Prick Your Finger in a week's time.

Nana, or whoever knitted these cardigans originally, made most of this work. I have just arranged it a little. Many, many thanks to Celia and Rachael for their help!

During the playing process, we were thinking about the amount of effort that women like my nana have put into catering (and over-catering) for their families' knitwear needs over the years. Rachael suggested that we might think of such effort as the Backbone of Britain - and the name stuck.

Please come and see! All are welcome at the tenth anniversary celebration on Thursday 21st August, 2014 at Prick Your Finger, 260 Globe Road, E2 0JD - join us to celebrate between 6pm and 9pm. I’ll be giving a slideshow talk – sharing my experiences of a decade in experimental slow fashion knitting – at 7pm. 

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