Sunday, 3 January 2016

From little things big things grow - Collaborative crafting

collaboration
noun
noun: collaboration; plural noun: collaborations
  1. the action of working with someone to produce something.

    "he wrote a book in collaboration with his son"

    synonyms:cooperation, alliance, partnership, participation, combination, association, concert; More
    teamwork, joint effort, working together, coopetition

    "he wrote on art and architecture in collaboration with John Betjeman"
    • something produced in collaboration with someone.

      "his recent opera was a collaboration with Lessing"
  2. traitorous cooperation with an enemy.

    "he faces charges of collaboration"

    synonyms:fraternizing, fraternization, colluding, collusion, cooperating, cooperation, consorting, sympathizing, sympathy;
    conspiring

    "Salengro had been accused of collaboration with the enemy"
    antonyms:resistance
(Definition from Google)

So why am I opening a blog post with a dictionary definition of Collaboration? 2015 was my Year of Collaborative Crafting. In the crafting world collaboration is all along the lines of the old adage of "Many hands make light work". Actually its been more like many come to together to produce amazing pieces of art! This year, I've contributed to 4 collaborative artworks with other knitters and crocheters from around the world.

I know where the idea all started. I first heard of the 5000 Poppies Project at a craft show in Melbourne in July 2014 where Lynn Berry, the instigator had a booth with hundreds of poppies pinned to the walls. You could sit and chat and make a poppy to contribute. Due the fact I was with my little sister I didn’t sit and knit / crochet on the day but I did pick up the patterns.
I crocheted one lone little poppy as my contribution to the massive field of poppies planned for ANZAC Day 2015 at Federation Square Melbourne and sent it off in the mail. This is in tribute to my husband’s years of military service in the Australian Army.  

Service in peacetime is no less valuable than war time. It’s the willingness to enter the service of your nation and protection of it’s people that counts.
There’s also something slightly ironic about the fact that I crocheted my poppy considering how much of a knitter I am!

I wasn't lucky enough to get to see the poppies in person at fed square on Anzac day but it was an amazing spectacle.
 

The story the ABC did on the the sea of poppies at Federation Square on ANZAC Day 2015 was one of the ten most watched stories for the year. You can watch it here.

The poppies are now touring Australia for the next 3 years and are about to overtake the Chelsea Flower Show in the UK. They need another 20,000 poppies on stems. I think I'd better knit on this time?

Then Prudence Mapstone put out the call all over the freeforming world:
It will be 50 years this coming November since the term ‘Flower Power’ was first coined in Berkeley, California, and used as a passive resistance slogan for non-violent protest against the Vietnam War. By the ‘summer of love’ a few years later, the movement had spread; the term ‘flower child’ was synonymous with ‘hippie’, and a counterculture had sprung up embracing psychedelic music and art. This art style is often recognizable from its simple, graphic, brightly coloured, poster-like designs; and as many flower children sought a return to basics and simple living, crafts had a resurgence, and a distinctive style of no-rules crochet sprang up as a small part of the hippie, grass roots ethos.

How could I not contribute to something I would actually have a chance to see in real life? And it challenged me to push my freeform crochet skills a little further…

I found an inspiration picture - I knew the colour palette I want to use. I started with a crocheted centre in the little scrap of pumpkin orange that was leftover from Junkyard Pumpkin. After all how better to use the last of the genuine 70’s yarn than in a homage to the 60s/70s. Mossy olive green and olive gold and baby blue….

This was a frog and re-frog project. I tried to recreate a flower from the inspiration wallpaper picture but found my crochet skills were inadequate to the task. So I just used the colour way and went for it. I made a flower basically with seven large pointed petals and then bordered it in variegated pink and finally knitted on a little border to fill up the wedges. The edging makes it pop.

If you want to know more about the 50 years of Flower Power project and see lots of photos of the individual scrumbles as well as the amazing finished piece - check out Prudence's blog about the project - 50 Years of Flower Power.

I got to see the final finished art work at the the Craft & Quilt Fair in Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) in July. It's enormous - about 10 m long and nearly 2 m high. I found my little piece, marveled at how well Prudence had made so many disparate pieces into such a singing harmonious whole, modeled for a photo (not my most flattering shot!) and signed the guest book. I also got the chance to chat to Prudence and thank her in person. It was amazing, just how mach attention this artwork got and how happy it made people to experience it.

I came especially to visit my flower and all her friends. Thanks Prudence for the amazing opportunity to collaborate.
My piece is just slightly up and to the left of my head. Can you find it?
And then randomly on a Wednesday in February I found the most amazing yarn-bombed trees in the City Square in Melbourne. And so I discovered a new place to collaborate: Yarn Corner.  (They nicely leave little business cards tied to their commissioned yarn-bombing projects).
Yarn Corner is one of the largest yarn bombing groups in the world, with nearly 1,000 local and international members. Based in Melbourne, Australia, the members come from many walks of life, and all crafting skill levels.The group was formed in May 2011 by prominent Melbourne fibre artist Bali of Twilight Taggers, who started fortnightly stitch and bitch meetings just for yarn bombers. What started as small gatherings, has over the course of 3 years, turned into a thriving not for profit community of like-minded crafters.

As my first contribution as a member of  Yarn Corner, I made a small part of a collaborative art project for the Moreart, the Moreland City Council Public Art Show. Moreart is an annual art-in-public-spaces event that aims to surprise and engage the community. All sorts of artworks and artists appear in unusual, and unexpected public sites along the Upfield and Sydney Road rail, road and bike precinct.

The theme for the Yarn Corner Piece was ‘How do I feel?’ - a collaborative blanket made of puzzle pieces expressing individual women’s attitude to their bodies.
Mine says: “My own autobiography”. After all, my body is a road map of my life. I lived these wrinkles, saggy skin and plump bumpy bits and earned every grey hair. And it was a fun journey.
 
I had trouble making gauge for this so I made it twice - once with a 4mm hook and once with a 5 mm hook. It then got three edging rows to get it large enough.

How Do I Feel? Exhibit by Yarn Corner: Safeway fence, Upfield Bike Path, Brunswick
 
I've just completed one more massive piece for Yarn Corner but this is so awesome it deserves its own post. Keep your eyes open for more collobrative crafting / yarn bombing / knitting as art in 2016. (Great way to use up the stash too by the way).

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