If you’re muttering darkly under your breath ‘what’s knitting doing in the Chicken Art Gallery’ think again, you’re behind the times. Knitting is cool, it’s everywhere in London….on the streets (guerrilla knitting) , in the Tate, people are knitting in cafes, on buses , on the underground and in the home.
This month at the Chicken Gallery Becca Tansley is exhibiting her work.
Becca is inspirational because she’s prepared to take on just about anything. She says knitting is an infinite world with an endless range of colours: yarn can be used like paint, mixed and blended, changed at will without loosing the flow. Knitters work with anything like wire, paper, or rope to the finest quality silks and cashmere. And then there is the combination of various stitches to produce patterns and textures which have developed over hundreds of years.
Even as a small girl on the school bus in Penybontfawr, she remembers unfocusing her eyes and watching the colours and shapes of the passing landscape blur, and wondering how she could get that effect in knitting. Although it was never a conscious decision to become a knitter, it was always part of her life. She loves how you can shape things and create texture using cables, and bobbles. How you can even create illusions with some yarn which, when looked at face on is speckly, but looked at side on is three dimensional.
At trade fairs she sells her own original patterns She has rarely used other people’s from start to finish, preferring to adapt them or create her own designs The knitted corset in the exhibition is one of hers, elegant and original.
In order to attract people to her stand, she hit on the idea of decorating it with knicker bunting …each ‘flag’ being a different coloured and patterned pair of knickers. It did the trick, people were intrigued.
Where does she get her ideas from? Well the ‘barbed wire’ in the Gallery, a constant image in the countryside, was one of the challenges she set herself, later incorporating it into a beanie hat and the straps of a vest.
But ideas come from everywhere she says, whether from a city skyscaper which looked like shipping containers with portholes, one on top of another. Or an evening sky turning from deep blue to slate grey, fading down to green behind the silhouette of huge old trees. Dramatic shapes, colours, she likes them strong: no insipid pastels for her.
Her present project is to make a ladder jumper inspired by the punk era when you might have put your thumb through a jumper or stocking to make the stitches run.
I already want one.
Becca plans to knit her way out of her day job as a nurse. We can only wish her all the best, the very best.
The Gallery was to have displayed work by Oswestry’s guerrilla knitter . . . remember Red Square in the summer? Instead it has two other noteworthy pieces. First a huge ‘dressed’ chicken, and second, a lone chicken on stilts by Sara Piper-Heap and Bob Knowles, already commissioned three times over.
With thanks to all at OS21 especially Meg Cambell