The Knitting Room
is an imaginative, colourful collaboration of community spirit which was brought to life in a walk-through display reminiscent of a 1950s home. Everything is magically conjured from threads and fibre and glows with vibrant colours.
The Knitting Room began as a small project at Strathaven residential care home in Tasmania in 2003, under the guidance of artist Dawn Csutoros. At that time, the aim was to recreate part of a 1950s room, everything life sized, using only the traditional skills of knitting and crochet which were so familiar to the older generation. In 2004, Robyn Carney was appointed as Project Coordinator and leading artist.
Being based in a nursing home, it was the older folk, who are rarely associated with this type of innovative project, who were central to the creative processes. About 50 residents, family and friends created individual and group pieces that contributed to the overall display. The results are testament to the incredible creative talent that has been unleashed.
The first public exhibition of The Knitting Room in August 2004, was modest but well received by those who walked through its living/dining room display.
Encouraged by the enthusiasm of both residents and supporters and keenly sensing that this project was still generating much interest, Robyn strongly recommended that The Knitting Room not only be continued, but expanded to invite even greater community involvement.
Successful grant applications to the Australia Council Community Development Fund, Tasmanian Regional Arts and the Glenorchy City Council, provided the extra funds during 2005-06 to allow The Knitting Room’s horizons to expand and its potential to blossom. Three artists, Gwen Egg, Shirley Johnson and Anita Flückiger, were employed part-time to assist in providing free, public workshops. Workshops at Strathaven and Strathglen were conducted each week. A total of 24 other formal workshops were also conducted at 6 regional centres from the Oatlands in the Tasmanian midlands, to Swansea on the east coast and south to Cygnet in the Huon Valley.
In May 2006, a much expanded exhibition of The Knitting Room was exhibited, at the Moonah Arts Centre, as part of the Glenorchy festival “The Works”. In the fortnight it was open, The Knitting Room was enjoyed by well over 1,000 visitors.
During this exhibition, the film crew of the popular television show The Collectors, recorded a segment about The Knitting Room. This was broadcast across Australia in early 2007. What was the collection? The Knitting Room is a collection of memories recreated as 3-dimensional objects and settings.
The ABC Television and Radio’s head office in Sydney had long-since been closely following progress of The Knitting Room. In July 2006, a significant section of the exhibition was transported to the heart of Sydney and displayed in the main. When the curtains rolled back to reveal the display, even hardened ABC reporters paused to marvel at its innocence and delight in its detail.
During the charity knit-in at the ABC head office the following week, an estimated 1,000 knitters reveled in knitting hundreds of squares. The Knitting Room exhibition, which overlooked the crowd, inspired and delighted many.
Following on from the successful 2005 exhibition at the Moonah Arts Centre, The Knitting Room was invited to be a part of the prestigious Tasmania-wide arts festival, 10 Days on the Island in 2007. In March 2007, after a fortnight setting up the installation and many months adding new work to the exhibition, the final showing of The Knitting Room opened to the public. Almost four and a half thousand visitors from all over Tasmania, from mainland Australia and from overseas, filed through the exhibition and fell under its spell.
The Knitting Room is now in permanent storage at Strathaven (not available to the public) awaiting a decision on the next leg of its journey.
Click below for further information about the project:
Other ArtLink projects: