For any crochet enthusiast living in Britain, a visit to the current exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery is an absolute must.
Joana Vasconcelos. who lives and works in Portugal, could quite aptly be described as the Madonna of the crochet world. Her work is collected by serious art collectors and has been commissioned for some of the most important art festivals, including the Venice Biennale. Her work is both beautiful and challenging, she uses the crochet to explore both subversive and ideologically complex subjects, using handicraft in the most exquisite fashion.
Throughout the gallery there are pieces of her work which make you laugh, make you smile and just smirk at how darn clever they are. Vasconcelos has used the gallery collection as an inspiration and a stimulus for her most recent work. As you walk through the gallery you find yourself encountering her crochet intervention and the joy is looking at her work and how it sits next to the original art work.
Vasconcelos has taken the concept of yarn-bombing to a whole new level. Some of her most striking works use crochet or tatting to encase a stone or ceramic sculpture. The beauty lies in the precision and choice of each part of the pattern. The stitch pattern accentuates and describes the form below. It is clever, decorative and as a crocheter, simply astounding.
If you crochet, then it is immediately tempting to inspect each piece forensically. You can almost spot a crocheter at ten paces, their noses will be as close to the work as physically possible, checking out the stitch detail, pondering on how each motif is linked. If you are a child, then free from inhibition you probably just giggle or gasp. I heard a little girl outside the gallery exclaim. 'Wow, Mummy look at that huge cupcake, Yummy'. That made me smile.
There is a special night planned for all crochet fans on Thursday 13th March, at Manchester Art Gallery. The evening starts with an opportunity to make your own crochet Cupcake in the Atrium. Then there will be a tour of the exhibition with curator Natasha Howes and Inside Crochet designer Emma Varnam. This will be followed by a short talk by Emma about her own design work and the journey from idea to the final piece.
From 5pm Open Crochet and Knit in the atrium with Lucy Burscough
6 – 6.45pm Tour with curator, Natasha Howes, no need to book
7.15-8pm Talk by Emma Varnam, no need to book
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