As part of the exhibition, two study days explored a variety of related topics. Beginning on the Highfield Campus, University of Southampton, delegates also had an opportunity to look round the Exhibition in the Special Collections Gallery in the Hartley Library. This excellent You Tube clip gives an overview of the exhibition and highlights the Montse Stanley Collection items on show.
|Swatches from the Montse Stanley Collection featured in the Exhibition|
Anna McNally, Assistant Archivist at the University of Westminster, looked at the way that knitting, an activity that produces very few written records, has been recorded in the historical archives. Her excellent talk, "Loose Threads: hunting for knitting in the archives" was a fascinating insight into archives and included a slide of what may be the first knitting selfie!
|Photo using a mirror - the first knitting selfie?|
Gill Clarke is Visiting Professor at the University of Chichester. Her presentation, "Home Front Woolies: art and knitting in the First and Second World War" referenced some wonderful illustrations and images of knitters and knitting. She also included images of knitting in beautiful paintings by Evelyn Dunbar from the Imperial War Museum Collections.
Victoria Walters, Senior Research Fellow at Winchester School of Art introduced us to contemporary fine artist Rosemarie Trockel in her talk, "Acting for the body of society: thinking through knit in the work of Rosemarie Trockel". Once again, having heard Victoria's talk, it was very useful to look through books about Rosemarie Trockel that are held in the Knitting Reference Library.
Deryn Relph, is a designer maker and a former Winchester School of Art BA(Hons) Fashion Textiles student. Her talk, "Repeat from *: patterns of reoccurrence and reinvention" brought the excellent first day to a close. Deryn included lovely images from the Montse Stanley Collection, focusing on the bags and purses. She then moved on to themes in contemporary knitted work, including Freddie Robbins.
Day two took place in the Gallery at Winchester School of Art.
Martin Polley, University of Southampton, explored the diverse ways in which knitting was part of the British experience of the Second World War in his talk, "Sweaters and the Services: knitting patterns and the military" He included Pathe film footage that illustrated his point about knitting being everywhere (such as in the queue for the air raid shelter) and having a sense of calmness and normality about it (knitting while listening to the radio). My favourite illustration of creative sourcing of yarn was this Pathe footage entitled "Very Doggy"!
Tom Van Deijnen's talk, "From piece work to a modern classic: the development of Sanquhar knitting" was very enjoyable. Begining with a history of Sanquhar knitting, he then discussed the construction of the glove and finally considered some modern day adaptions and patterns based on the Sanquhar tradition.
Artist and independent curator, Dawn Cole, described how she uses the archive that she inherited from her Great Aunt, First World War VAD Nurse, Clarice Spratling to inform her work. The archive includes photos, diaries and handwritten knitting patterns and in her presentation, "The Silence of Knitting", Dawn showed us some of the beautiful prints she has created inspired by this material. The talk ended with a performance by Dawn that brought out strong feelings and emotions in the audience.
|Speakers answering questions from the audience|
Linda Newington and her team had also set up a Pop-up Knitting Reference Library in the Gallery and we were able to look at many of the publications mentioned throughout the talks.
The conference ended with the launch of "Textile: Journal of Cloth and Culture" Special Edition edited by Jonathan Faiers from In the Loop 3, Winchester Discovery Centre September 2013.
The delegates also all appreciated the lovely goodie bags that had been so thoughtfully put together!