2017, 275cm x 50cm Diameter, Wool, Cotton, Viscose, Silk, Alpaca, Mohair, Polyester, Leather
‘Construction’ as a project explores ideas of gendered craft processes by constructing stereotypically ‘masculine’ architectural structures from traditionally ‘feminine’ craft techniques, particularly those that could be grouped under the term of ‘domestic craft’, such as knitting, crochet, macramé and embroidery. These crafts commonly do not involve the use of specialist equipment and therefore are able to be practiced within the setting of the home rather than a professional studio. Employing a range of textile processes, this project serves as a tribute to craft and the physical act of making.
Often inspired by classical architecture, my initial interest was piqued by symbols of strength and support uniquely found in architecture, such as column and pillar structures. Further research lead me to be intrigued by the style of Corinthian and Composite columns, which are not only often regarded as feminine due to their heavy ornamentation, but also hold a strong visual tie to the structures of cable-knitting, a technique exclusive to knitting. With both natural forms and rope work being often present in architectural ornamentation, this allows for the development of cable-knit as a textural fabric for the construction of these ornamental support structures.
Through the construction of a life-size knitted representation of a Corinthian/Composite-style column, my work plays upon the apparent ‘femininity’ associated with these architectural styles, by using knitting and textile techniques to heighten and exaggerate the ‘feminine’.
Working primarily with hand-knitted cable structures, this work also pays a physical tribute to the precise handwork of ‘the master stonemason’, with knitting’s repetitive twisting, looping and knotting creating intricate structures. The use of hand-knitting as my primary technique also emphasizes the idea of ‘hand-crafted’; each stitch is constructed individually which provides the maker with an aspect of control not as easily afforded by the machine knitting process.
Working exclusively within the spectrum of shades of ‘ecru’ available, my intent is to highlight femininity through the apparent softness of colour and the connection of ‘ecru’ to knitting’s heritage of Aran sweaters. Many ecru shades within the work are a result of the natural fleece colour of a selection of British sheep breeds, and each breed’s yarn also has its own structural integrity, emphasizing the difference in textures within the work.
The construction of this structure from knit, I believe, allows for the possibility of viewer interaction, as connection with knitted textures is prevalent in everyday life. It is my intent that the presence of the’ familiar’ in this context might allow for the potentiality of inverting the rules of ‘touch’ commonly associated with gallery-based work.