Knitting is persistently associated with leisure activities of elderly ladies. The exhibition KNITTED WORLDS in the Audax Textile Museum Tilburg shows another side by presenting installations and objects, experimental fashion, photographic and video work by artists and designers from Europe and the United States. The theme of the exhibition is the visualisation of political, social and artistic questions.
Artists like Rosemarie Trockel from Germany and the American Elaine Reichek, but also a younger generation opted for knitting in order to target clichés concerning cultural identity, sexuality and the position of women in the visual arts.
Trockel became known with her knitted paintings and conceptual dresses. In the machine-knitted canvas Cogito, ergo sum (1988) Trockel subtly plays with quotations from art and philosophy. Reichek mainly expressed critical comments on the representation of socially marginalised groups. Also politically biased is the work of the American sculptor Dave Cole and the German artist Annette Streyl , who investigate the meaning of political symbols. The work of the British artists Jayne Parker, Kelly Jenkins and Jimini Hignett concentrates on the body as politicised and sexualised entity. With the aid of computer guided machines Jenkins produces brightly coloured knitting, inspired by advertisements in porno magazines. Hignett visualises the twisted image of sexuality developed by women under influence of the media.
Knitting as a second skin and experiments with materials and texture play a major role in the work of Nanna van Blaaderen, Daniera ter Haar, Maria Blaisse and Karin Marseille. The Sunflowers (2004) by Maria Roosen and the bright red Kitchen (2007) by Désirée de Baar are powerful, poetic images demonstrating the sculptural possibilities of the knitting technique. A hushed beauty is to be found in the monochrome knitting by the Norwegian artist Heidi Kennedy Skjerve and the spatial objects made of knitted copper wire by Karin Marseille.
Material and texture are striking aspects in the work of Dutch designers in KNITTED WORLDS. For her graduation at the Design Academy Eindhoven Greetje van Tiem under the title Recycling Daily News (2007) spun newsprint into yarn, from which to construct a knitted hassock. Christien Meindertsma used inch-thick yarns for the production of her vegetable-dyed Urchin Pouf (2006). The knitted cylinders by Bauke Knottnerus´ Phat Knits (2008) form large seating elements. For the Pillow Pouf (2008) by Petra Vonk & Janneke Hooymans the former developed delicate knitting in the museum’s Textile Lab. The knitted, three-layered fabric HOLOknit (2007) by the designer duo Yvonne Laurysen and Erik Mantel, together LAMA Concept, is fine-meshed and elegant with three-dimensional effects under a special lighting.
Knitting is not only a source of inspiration for artists and designers but is also booming in popular culture. In Europe during recent years tens of Stitch´n Bitch knitting cafés after American example have come into existence, staging discussion evenings and happenings. In the exhibition and on the website of the Textile Museum visitors can acquaint themselves with these activities through selected sites. There is also a weblog, where news and contributions by artists, designers and museum staff can be found. All visitors are invited to react on the weblog and the exhibition.
Artist Anne Reijse has been asked to develop a project for visitors, which will take shape in the museum as work-in-progress parallel to the exhibition. The starting shot will take place during the opening.
Two participants in the exhibition Knitted Worlds will give inspiring workshops on knitting. On 12 May Petra Vonk will conduct the workshop Layering in knits. Knitted fabrics will be combined with transparent and lace fabrics, creating new, special fabrics. The second workshop Folding knits will take place on 14 June. Under supervision of Karin Marseille the participants will experiment with knitting made of wool and copper thread. For more information see: www.textielmuseum.nl.
In the Textile Shop of the museum knitted accessories are for sale, including a product specially developed by designer Christien Meindertsma. Visitors can also find books on knitting and the publication Knitted Worlds. The design for the exhibition and the accompanying publication are by C. Henkdrikx/ SuopuLab and Annemarie van den Berg.
Image 1: Daniera ter Haar, Soft Intensions, 2007
Image 2: Nanna van Blaaderen, Wool (serie In movement), 2007. Photography: Nanna van Blaaderen
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