On my way out of The Art House on Wednesday, I was sidetracked by local artist Sarah Filmer's Blue Jumper project, which was paying us a visit for our regular Stitch 'n Bitch group.
The blue jumper is one huge (getting steadily huger and less jumper-like) piece of knitting & crochet in many shades of blue wool.
It's a participatory piece, which is being added to over time by all sorts of people and the only rules are that it has to be blue. Speaking to Sarah about the piece, it's clear that the jumper started life as a symbol strongly connected with her late Mum. It's a really beautiful piece which has grown and taken on an identity of it's own, added to by everyone who has knitted a piece of it.
blue jumper - the generous stitch from sarah filmer on Vimeo.
For me, the experience of adding to the jumper was quite addictive - I ended up staying all evening after promising to only crochet a few rows (I don't do knitting, two needles confuses me). The feeling of crocheting something with no set form or function was strangely liberating and got me thinking about how yarn-based projects are moving from the realm of the practical to a more aesthetic, ephemeral place. The rise in yarn bombing and scrumbling seems to flow from the reclamation and transformation of the 'feminine' creative outlets of textiles, pottery and embroidery.
It's always been pretty clear that the art/craft divide is fuelled, at least in part, by the perceived masculinity of 'high art' versus the femininity of 'crafts'. It's an ongoing tension and an interesting one at that! I think the rise in popularity of knitting and crochet (and cupcake making, for that matter) is an interesting thing to think about too - a hopeful sign that people are longing to reconnect with simpler, small scale creativity.
But back to the jumper. For me, the experience of just sitting and chatting at The Art House was a rare one, and totally enjoyable (the subject of vaginas came up more than once, unlike the US Senate, the word is allowed to be spoken in conversation at our place).
One of the ideas behind the jumper is to explore community and connection, and the act of all sitting around working on the same piece did have some interesting alchemy. Even though I didn't know any of the people in the group very well, the conversation flowed so freely, as if the wool connecting us physically was having some deeper effect on us all (the cider probably helped, too!).
I thought of all the groups of people who had worked together on the piece, the conversations they had had, the individual elements they had knitted in. There was something deeply magical about it.
We hope to have the Blue Jumper in The Art House window in late Autumn, that's if it's not too big by then!