Exhibition Preview : Friday 9 January 6 to 9pm
Exhibition open Saturday 10 January to Saturday 21 February 2015 : Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm
Clare Sams has constructed a knitted environment in The Garden Room at The Minories that recreates a scene of devastation. In 2009 there was severe flooding in Cockermouth, a town in Cumbria. A shop called ‘Knitting Fever’ had its window broken in by the surge of water. The wool that was sold in the shop spilled out and floated through the town. As the water receded a tangled mess of wool straggled through the town, entwining itself around lamp-posts, trees, cars, bicycles and anything else that it found in its path.
Other items that were caught in the flood were also entangled in the woolen mess including cash tills, bins, hub caps, ladders, shop display units and much more. It was if a trawl-net had been dragged through shops and houses, catching detritus and then leaving them carelessly strewn on the streets and pavements.
By representing a staging of this event almost entirely in wool, Clare has presented us with a scene that looks chaotic, but is entirely ordered, structured and managed. The back-story of a ball of wool is not often considered. Wool has been produced for thousands of years, and the basic production methods have remained relatively unchanged. The uses of wool and construction methods have also remained relatively similar. Although knitting is a primitive process, it can also be complex, detailed and intricate.
The shop ‘Knitting Fever’ was an outlet for wool – it sold balls of wool and the tools (knitting needles) to construct fabric with. As the floods took hold it unwittingly became a different kind of outlet – its contents were removed and rearranged at the mercy and whim of the powers of nature, and what it left behind was a fabric of a different kind – seemingly random but defined by the laws of nature.
Knitting is stereotypically viewed as a passive feminine past-time – purely practical and genteel – but Clare’s installation has taken the process and imbued it with a more charged nature and potential, representing cataclysmic forces that are not usually associated with the practice. Taking elements from life that are slightly darker, or have a hint of the unsavoury to them is something that Clare often does within her work, and this unexpected contradiction can add an element of humour to it. A previous work, Gull Eating Fried Chicken, consists of a knitted seagull eating a knitted piece of fried chicken, something that is at first glance soft and fluffy (materially and conceptually), but a seagull eating another bird suggests cannibalism and the darker side of life. She has also knitted scenes of the Hackney riots, Guantanamo Bay detention camp, rats, and cigarette butts.
Clare has received a six-week sabbatical from her post at the University of Arts in London so she can spend time engaging with visitors to her installation. She will be working in the space every Wednesday from 11.30am – 2.30pm during her exhibition, giving demonstrations on hand knitting, finger knitting, machine knitting, graph paper plans for fair-isle and frame knitting, and on-hand to answer questions.
‘Gull eating fried chicken’ will be at at the knitting and stitching show in London and Harrowgate as a finalist in the UK Hand Knitting association knitted textile awards.
Stitching St Botolphs
The stitching is all finished and the tapestry ready to hung.
Please come along to the opening night!
Wednesday 9th July
The Waiting Room
The Old bus Station
off Queen Street
Join us to hear more from the artist and her project. You’re also welcome to bring along your haberdashery projects to work on with the group.
Working in conjunction with Voices of the Quarter, Stitching St Botolphs will collect recent and ancient histories from the area of the cultural quarter. These will be translated into stitch through the collaboration of local crafters.
It will link communities in the cultural quarter, and build a cultural narrative of the St Botolphs locale. The textiles work will document memories from local people, and the ancient, current, and modern architecture of this area.
Come with a story about a place in St Botolphs, a favourite shop, club, or residence. We’ll have some bring some fabrics, stencils, and acrylics. In this session we will be make walls and roofs. Clare is also bringing bonda web and calico for window frames. Donations of plain fabrics will be very useful too!
The Waiting Room
The Old Bus Station, off Queen Street,, CO1 2PH Colchester, Essex
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Birds of a Feather
Exhibition of bird attractors and repellents at The Minories gallery
The Feral Pigeon Eating Crisps will have a temporary roost at the gallery From January 2014
The Minories Gallery
74 High Street,
Colchester, United Kingdom
Tel: (01206) 712437 E-mail: the.minories[at]colchester.ac.uk
Parallax Art Fair
Chelsea Town Hall
Kings Road, London
How did I get here?
25th July 2013
Exhibition of new work
The Digby Gallery
The Mercury Theatre
15th April-12th May 2013
Private view 20th April 11.30-1.30pm
Sculptures installed at The National Trusts Bourne Mill