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The quite wonderful Katja Ogrin took some marvellous pics of yesterdays install.
Yesterday I spent all day sewing pieces of knitting onto a large bronze bull. Why? Because I’d been commissioned by the Bullring to do so. Below lies the tale…
In April myself and a small group of knitters from Stitches and Hos tried to cover parts of the Bullring with knit graffiti. Within 10mins of tagging the bull, 2 security guards came out and told us to leave. We ended up putting our pieces around the city centre instead (more info here). However, I still wanted to knit graffiti the Bullring. That place was still on the list. I knew that I’d have to go back, I just didn’t know how or when.
On 25 October I received an email from Lola Ralph through the Stitches and Hos website. She had seen the groups previous knit graffiti exploits and thought we might be interested in decorating the Bullring Bull for Christmas. I thought that all of my knit graffiti Christmas’ had come at once.
We set up a meeting to discuss ideas and came up with making the Bull a Christmas jumper. There was however one small catch. The work had to be done by 1st December. Just over a month…
Before I accepted the commission I put out a call to everyone who had taken part or expressed an interest in our knit graffiti. There was no way that I was going to be able to do this alone. Once I’d found out if anyone was available to help me I went to measure the bull. It was at this point I realised the enormity of what needed to be done. His neck was 238cm around, his body was 250cm long and he was 367cm around his waist.What a beast.
So I set about devising a pattern and a way to make the work. I also started shopping for wool. The budget was really tight so I needed to be canny about what wool we could use. I’d been given a colour pallette by the Bullring which I needed to adhere to and I’d agreed to include a sparkly collar to make the jumper more festive. Mikayla at Fibre Flurry in Kings Norton came to my rescue. So wool was ordered and a pattern devised. All we had to do was knit more than 12m² in just over 3 weeks.
The 3 weeks flew by and everyone worked really hard to ensure that all the pieces were finished in time. Yesterday I went with Vickie, Lilith, Helen and Emily with a suitcase full of knitting to sew it all together.
I hadn’t really thought about what a stir we would cause whilst we were installing. There was a constant stream of questions and comments from shoppers and passers by. Most people seemed cheered by his new attire, although there were some people who didn’t like it.
Here are a few pictures of the piece being installed taken by Rhiannon Davies.
I cannot thank the team enough, it really wouldn’t have been possible without you. Vickie, Emily, Helen, Lilith, Rhiannon, Nicola, Natalie, Sharon and Sam I salute you. Also big thanks to Katja for documenting the install, Mikayla at Fibre Flurry for doing a Saturday morning dash to Leeds to make sure we had the wool on time, support and much needed encouragement from everyone in Wardrobe at Birmingham Royal Ballet especially Lorna and finally extra special thanks to Matt who double checked my sums and believed I could do it.
Yesterday I fulfilled a long held ambition to do some knit graffiti on the streets of Birmingham.
Our little knitting hootenanny was originally inspired by the work of Knitta Please. Credited with starting the knit graffiti movement Knitta Please started tagging their local environment with pieces of knitting. When I saw my first Knitta image I knew that I wanted to do some here in Brum.
The years passed (yes years), I talked about doing some knit graffiti but never seemed to find the time to actually get it done. My inspiration was a conversation I had with Sam Underwood at a party in January. He told me that he was taking a year long sabbatical to concentrate on his music and to work on those ideas that you never quite find the time for when working. I thought, if Sam could give up work for a year, I could get my arse in gear to do some knit graffiti.
I originally thought that the Bullring would make an excellent target. Large public statue – check, lots of street furniture – check, iconic building that could do with some wool love – check and double check. I sent out my measurements to everyone and we started knitting. Just a couple of weeks before our installation date a large set of hoardings went up at the Bullring cutting off many of our identified targets. A small spanner in the works but we weren’t going to let that get in our way.
So yesterday morning I got up at 5am and met the group to tag. We started off at the Bullring Bull. We hadn’t been there more than 15mins when a security guard came out to tell us to stop as we were on private property. When we explained what we were doing hoping he’d let us get on our merry way, I was told that the Bullring owners, Hammerson “wouldn’t like this kind of thing”.
The security guard tried to make me delete my photos on my camera. When I refused, I was told that publishing the photos would make be liable. Now I understand that vandalism is a punishable offence but surely a piece of removable knitted graffiti doesn’t count as vandalism. It was clear that the security guard was going to stick to his rule book, so we took our pieces and left.
At this point we were disheartened, we’d all spent a lot of time making our pieces and now they wouldn’t see the light of day. So we rallied and decided that Birmingham wasn’t just the Bullring, there was a whole city centre to find new homes for our pieces.
We walked the city centre streets and tagged what we could find – St Phillips Cathedral grounds, Union St, postboxes, road signs and Waterloo St. Our pièce de résistance was tagging ‘The River’ better known as Floozy in the Jacuzzi.
After 2 hours we’d used up all our pieces. There was only 1 thing left to do – head back to mine for a celebratory bacon sandwich whilst we looked through photos of our exploits.
And now you can have a look too.
I would like to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who made pieces and installed – Sara Nicklin, Emily McDonough-Scott, Amanda Lawrence, Beccy Lawrence, Sarah Bett, Rebecca Emery. And finally to Sam – thanks for giving me the inspiration to get on and do it