The artistic value of the knitted banana

The exhibition was called  DANCES WITH WOOLS  – and before I even start on the knitted banana a word of advice to curators.  Be very careful with the punning title,  it might not portray the image you want. ( Dances with Wolves, a 1990 american epic western from a 1988 book – dealing with the conflict between European and  Sioux- seems to have little connection with knitting either practically or spiritually)

As with many exhibitions that show work where knitting is the process used by the artist  to produce their work , this exhibition  also contained a long table covered in a variety of knitted and crocheted food related pieces. The sponsors  stated

             Knitting and crochet crosses over many age groups as well as social and cultural boundaries and as a group activity it is an ideal means to develop a collaborative practice.

                In September 2012 The Gallery @ BACC will facilitate an installation created around the theme of the evening            family meal. This will consist of a long table with a knitted or crocheted table cloth, laden with (textile) food and            drink as well as dinner and glassware. This project will include participants of all ages and skill levels. If you are    interested in getting involved talk to the staff at the gallery to register!

How on earth is knitting a collaborative activity?   OK lots of people knit  but they do it individually . Knitting is NOT collaborative. It is actually  quite a singular activity , and until the knitter is fairly skilled it is quite isolating. The knitter needs to concentrate on their yarn and needles.  A group of knitters  all concentrating on their own wor , even if in the same space , is not collaborative –  it is at the most parallel activity  ( like toddlers  at play group).

It seems to me that this sort of activity – allied to what purported to be a serious exhibition of art works that used knitting as a medium – actually denigrates the serious work.  What are the curators trying to say- that any one can do thisLook it’s knitting  isn’t it amazing !  Or are they simply using this activity to fulfil some funding requirement for community involvement.

Bringing the two approaches together  makes it confusing . Are we looking at the community art in the same way as we consider the ‘serious’ art; or vice versa.  Community art is evaluated in a different way to the way we consider ‘serious’art, for me the importance in community art is how it engages  and enables  the community to grow  in confidence , the artistic value of the work is of lesser importance. Where with ‘serious’ art work we are interested in its artistic worth

It is actually easy to see how crazy this combination approach is. A serious exhibition of painting  does not have an  associated  show of amateur painting, and we would think it very strange if it did.

So let us treat knitting as it should be treated. Where it is used as an artistic medium let it be considered as seriously as Oil Painting or   stone carving .

And let us exhibit  community art on its own merits.

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