the blue jumper at knitsQUAD

derby quad gallery has strategies to engage its local community – a hard nut to crack according to curator, peter bonnell. a number of groups meet regularly in the gallery – the genius use of the moniker :

booksQUAD, sewsQUAD, kidsQUAD …


and so it transpired that i spent a refreshing monday afternoon a couple of weeks ago with the regular members of ‘knitsQUAD’, led by hannah herve-petts, and the blue jumper


the jumper performed its magic: these knitters came fresh and unknowing to the jumper – their faces following the familiar route from quizzical, to comprehending to smiling, enjoying, connecting, embracing.

quad-5     quad-4


i often wonder how important the story of how the jumper began is, and as it has taken on its own form, and set of meanings and understandings, i have tended not to concentrate on its origins, more on its manifestation at any given moment. my concern has been that the intensely personal nature of the story of the blue jumper might influence how people come to the work.


as samuel beckett said,

‘to restore silence is the role of objects’


and i regularly grapple with how much we are expected to talk about and explain the things we make.


i had something of a revelation during this visit, however, and came to realize that in this case, explaining the jumper’s journey was an enabling act: somehow, the elucidation of my personal connection with the work enabled others to connect in their own way, generating metaphorical mental meanderings around how we connect with each other and what that means to each of us.


quad-3   quad-2



the knitters then developed their own discourse around their personal relationships with knitting and its relevance and importance to their personal situations. whilst there is thematic recurrence within discussions held around the jumper, it is the specificity and the particularities that define the richness and depth of this ongoing project.


we were nestled between the interactive lo-fi game … and a photograph presented by gail newsham of the dick, kerr ladies football team, 1921, in the main gallery space at quad. ‘the pride and the passion’ is a football themed group show curated by peter bonnell, deftly negotiating the multiplicities of football from its political, international, iconic guise (check out ronnie close’s ‘more out of curiosity’ that focuses on egyptian ‘ultras’ football fans), to the hyperlocal, derby county memorabilia collection amassed for this exhibition (one can sit and watch video in chairs from the derby county board room), to create a coherent and thought-provoking show.

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 20.53.23   dick, kerr ladies football team, with woolly hats



the disparity between football and knitting, (I’m thinking gender, economic importance, televisual coverage ….) are clear, although, as the relaxed and engaging afternoon progressed, parallels did become apparent, particularly in individual investment and participatory terms.

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