I’m seriously excited about this: this crazy idea I had for an exhibition that I pitched to Tanya at Yarn Trader and she totally backed me! I know there will be some that will gawk at the idea that I am calling myself an artist…but that is precisely what I am trying to get you to think about. Why is it that my (main) artistic expression: knitting, is not valued the same way as “Fine Art”? And why is my mostly self-directed, self-funded, organic, evolving artistic education which includes countless pilgrimages to galleries and museums, documentaries and sketch, scupture, fibre and other media studies, and not an offical Arts School qualification, keep me locked into an ‘Amateur’ category?
There is an evolving understanding about many arts practices around the world that used to be denigrated as “Folk Art” or “Creative Arts” or “Craft”. The artistic practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders used to be classed as such, until fairly recently. Thankfully there is a much greater appreciation and even a global following of First Nations artists now.
Fibre Arts, including knitting, is often seen as “Woman’s Work” or handicraft: simply replicating something rather than producing an inspired new expression. I disagree. For a start: most artistic practices begin with mimicry. But then they evolve. Students find their voice and stop echoing that of their Master and begin to bring their own ideas to life. There often remains something of that original flavour, or direction, but it takes on new tones, new orchestration, new tempo.
My knitting journey started as a 5 year old. And my training continues today: I still knit other designers’ patterns to learn new techniques, new ways of expressing old motifs. But I also draw on experiences, connections, ideas, the natural world, and other inputs to design new works. Some of these I turn into patterns so that others can be guided by my voice as they start their knitting journey, and others will remain one off, unrepeatable expressions of my insatiable urge to create, to manipulate a bit of string with some sticks to create wearable art.
My exhibition, A Woman’s Work is Never (Un)Done, supported by Yarn Trader and the City of Port Adelaide Enfield runs 20-27 August 2022. There are a couple of workshops, a social event and a 4 day knitting marathon/ artist demonstration/ open studio/ performance art.
The workshops and the social event require booking but you can just come hang out and chat and knit, watch me create… and let it all unravel at the end of each day, like a sand story or mandala.