The Knitted Fence, Perth, Western Australia

Located at Slaughterblouse Boutique for the Beaufort Street Festival, Mount Lawley, Perth, Western Australia.

So Where Have all the T-Shirts Gone?

For the last two months Phyllis Dunham and myself have been cutting up old T-shirts and knitting them into squares for an art installation for the Beaufort Street Festival in Mt Lawley. We were invited to participate by festival organisers who had seen photos of the 2009 Knitted Façade made out of recycled T-Shirts on the lake Grace Multi-Artspace last year. Asked to “Yarn Bomb” the street along with many other knitters, a plan took shape to make some mischief. A really large “tarn bomb” to be exact. Tarn is the highly technical abbreviation for T-Shirt Yarn.

Inspired by Piet Mondrian initially, although we got lost in the vibrant colours of the the T-shirts and couldn’t resist putting every colour imaginable on the fence. We found, scrounged, dug out of our own cupboards and recieved many donated T-Shirts of every shape condition and colour. My favourite tees were the ones with paint all over them and the reflective CBH and mining shirts because it doesn’t matter how much grease,paint or holes the Tee has, it looks allbrand new when it is knitted up. We cut and wound our knitting thread from this mountain of tees.

Phyl and I attacked the project by selecting a fence belonging to Slaughterblouse Boutique – strangely enough a shop specializing in mainly wool garments. It was the style of their front fence, a dark flat strap construction, that inspired us to do the Mondrian style piece. But of course we couldn’t limit ourselves to red, blue, white, yellow, and black so every colour t-shirt we were donated found its way into the ‘knitted fence’ making it a kaleidoscope of colour. We worked out a sizing and placement system to minimize the time it took to put them up (just in case we were collared by the boys in blue– yes, sir of course we had permission to yarn graffiti the fence, sir! )

Phyl and I were ably assisted in installation by Darren, Sandra and Elizabeth  who were too embarrassed not to help , just to get us off the street quicker! (amazing what family will do in the pirsuit od peace!) Appearing along with the donated t-shirts were a couple of breast cancer ones from Pauline Taylor’s Horse Ride for Breast Cancer a few years ago, so into the fence they went, inspiring us to make a “Knitting in Circles Blanket” to raffle for breast cancer at a later date.

Knitting in Circles is where multiple knitters work on the same circular piece at once. So on Saturday 27th November, festival day, Phyl, Sandra (mum) and myself sat on the street and invited people to knit with us on our circular blanket. We had many wonderful conversations with passers-by and a few who were game, sat down to knit with us. Other onlookers merely wanted to know how to join our little knitting group but alas, when we told them they would have to travel just a little way out into the country to join us regularly they were very disappointed. But of course we tried to get them to relocate to Lake Grace anyway!

It quite often happens that when we are away on art projects we get asked where we are from and we are delighted to tell people that we live in Lake Grace. In fact when they say “Where is Lake Grace?” or, is that “North or south of the river?” or “What suburb is that?”  So we tell them that Lake Grace is in the middle of everywhere – 3 1/2 hrs from Perth, 4hrs from Esperance, 2 1/2hrs from Albany, 3hrs from Bunbury and 5hrs from Kalgoorlie. Of course they look at us thinking we are nuts, but it just really depends on your point of view, doesn’t it!