Knitted Codes: Jean Kirk

Madame Defarge in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens knitted into her work the names of those to be executed when the revolution began. Although this is fiction, knitting was used as a means of passing on information during the American War of Independence and both World Wars. With a series of knots, dropped stitches and pattern changes knowledge of train and troop movements was gathered and passed on

Are patterns codes?

I began to look at patterns of Ganseys worn by fishermen along the east coast of England and Scotland, also in Devon and Cornwall.

These are Gansey patterns from Whitby, Sheringham and Polperro

These Gansey patterns are all associated with place and people within this place. The code for these is the identification, both emotionally and physically, of people and place.

Can colour be a code?

Red is a colour associated with power, orange with potential danger (as in traffic lights), purple was the symbolic colour of opulence and royalty, yellow the Chinese symbol of the Emperor’s family,

Naturally dyed yarns using leaves, flowers and berries from my garden and gathered on walks around my home town during lock down last year. I used wool from Wensleydale and Cotswold sheep, also Alpaca from Somerset.

I am using the ides of pattern and colour as codes to knit a piece of work for exhibition next year.

This work is about the seasons of the year and the emotions which are evoked by them, with colour and pattern as a code for the seasons.

This is work in progress!!

Looking for inspiration and patterns…… Caroline Hibbs

Someone once said to me that looking for inspiration is like wading in mud.  My first thought was ‘what a ridiculous thought;’ but after pondering over it I realised …. that is exactly what it is.  During this time of Covid 19 it has been difficult to think of anything else with every media platform full of it and rightly so but it does get in the way of any other thoughts.  Keeping to the government guidelines at all times this household has been going for long walks, from our doorstep, on the South Downs, and my word we have really waded in a lot of mud.  

The photo shows the river bank of the Sussex Ouse … on the right the river and on the left a flooded field, the river water had to have somewhere to go!  The mud does tend to force you to look down at your feet and where you are putting them!  But …. force yourself to look up … and immediately you will see beautiful patterns everywhere.  The sky .… its light, the clouds and the colours forever changing.  The trees in winter enticing us to think of spring with the buds quietly waiting for their moment to flourish, even when  they are covered in haw frost.   

I constantly find I am looking for patterns wherever I go, the ancient church in a tiny East Sussex village and the other end of the scale the rusty detritus in a farm yard.  The sun rising and peeping over the downs or looking out to sea to the horizon as the sun slowly appears.  There are patterns wherever you look if you have the time to gaze.

Artists have painted the South Downs for many years and the artist Eric Revillous famously painted the Downs in East Sussex, the open fields, pathways, fields, pasture and the Cliffs looking down to Beachy Head lighthouse to name a few.  His work is full of patterns and if we take time we will see them too.  So never mind the mud, put on your boots and just go and be inspired.    

I am reminded of the poem ‘Leisure’ by W H Davies …

What is this life if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care.
We have no time to stand and stare.

Poem in  Public Domain.  


Here : Now

Online Exhibition Caroline Hibbs, Jean Kirk, Kay Swancutt, Marilyn Hall, Monika Brueckner

Caroline Hibbs ‘Marks we leave behind’

My work was inspired by the marks we leave behind that perhaps we shouldn’t.

Hand stitch, cotton cloth and thread, 100 x 80 cms

Look carefully and-

See patterns all around you.

Beautiful or not

Marks are everywhere

In spray paint, scratched or gouged.

On walls, doors and trees 

Love tokens on trees 

Cave paintings there to thrill for-

millions of years

All left by …. humans 

Marks are Here:Now and Were:Then

And will always be.

Jean Kirk ´Being in the moment´

This work is about being present in the moment, fully aware of life as it is now. 

The main body of work consists of a number of ten centimetre squares, knitted in four ply wool and coloured with natural dyes. Garter stitch forms the background, small stocking stitch squares, embedded within, speak about being present ‘in the moment’. 

The second piece is a three metre strip knitted in four ply natural wool. Differing needle sizes vary the tension; the moment we have may change, but we should always be aware of it.

Kay Swancutt Woven : Time

This work is about time; time taken, time being, time valued, time spent and time validated.

The time taken to choose the materials, slowly selecting the warp, warping up and winding the shuttles. Importantly being present when the weaving is taking place.

Weaving is a meditative time and the relationship between the materials, process and me is a closely guarded time.

The piece is a visual record of the experience and the quiet simple work is the reality of the experience that talks about the flow that occurs when in the present moment.

Marilyn Hall Locked in: A moment in time

This work holds a moment in time. A memory. A walk along a beach;

items I collected became my inspiration and shells and pebbles suggested a colour palate.

Natural dyes obtained from my garden were used to dye pieces of repurposed cloth. Randomly selected and stitched into patches they hold the memory of the walk and the quiet, reflective time spent stitching.

Ceramics imprinted with the patches and shaped over the pebbles make ‘vessels of memory’ which become a permanent recollection of time and place.

This work acts as metaphor for footsteps taken along my creative journey. 

Monika Brueckner Here : Now

The human body is a kind of vessel

storing and giving up – there are secretions and secrets, several openings in the light or in the unknown dark; inside the container are more and more smaller spaces –  folded, structured and colored, an exciting unknown place – an existence. We are here. 

The inside opens up new exiting views. Unknown spaces metamorphose into a magical world by looking through a microscope. The unfamiliar can be uncanny and blurred and at the same time fascinating. 

Our body is the home of our soul and this has as well aspects which we hide, don’t want to look at but also loved and positive ones. What we show depends on the now, the moment.

Old Iron Fence Post. Marilyn Hall

The River Avon – Shakespeare’s Avon – runs through our village. Shallow and wide, it provided an easy crossing here, one of only two between Warwick and Stratford. The river rises up near Naseby, flows for 85 miles to its confluence with the Severn near Tewkesbury.

Most mornings before breakfast I take a walk through the village to the river.  It is constant but ever changing as the varying weather transforms the river.

The waters rise and fall, flooding the water meadows in spells of wet weather. It brings debris which becomes stranded on the banks, small islands and overhanging branches. Much of the debris is natural material – logs, branches, grasses, leaves. But occasionally refuse becomes caught up – an old pallet, a sofa, plastic bottles. 

I wonder how a sofa has found its way to the island by our bridge. It will wait there until the next big flood when the rushing waters will collect it and take it on the next leg of its journey. One day when it arrives in Stratford it will be removed before the sight of it offends the tourists.

There is wildlife on the river, I stop and wait quietly and see what each morning brings. 

Mallards are resident along the river, swans often raise a brood of cygnets here, the heron – very, very shy – is usually seen standing fishing, and if we are really lucky a kingfisher or two might make an appearance. A streak of iridescent turquoise dashing past just above the water level. This week there was a small, white egret which is a first.

In the bushes and trees along the bank can be seen all kinds of birds including warblers, tits and once a little goldcrest.

On one of my walks a few weeks ago I noticed an old, rusty fence post lying by the bridge.

It lay there for a couple of days tempting me.  How did it get there?  It certainly hadn’t floated on the river but there it was, stranded .

The temptation was too great, I carried it home all the while wondering where it had come from, which field it has been in, how old was it, who had made it?

It is all too easy to forget the person who made an old discarded item, who used it, who maintained it.  I want to pay tribute to those people by embedding the memory of the post in cloth. 

I have a cotton scarf that has been in my store for a while. Strips can be wound round the post and left to see what marks appear.

I want to stitch into the lengths of cloth with a yarn whose colour is sympathetic to those of the cloth.  With this in mind I have decided to wrap some fine linen yarn around the post so that it will take on a similar colour palette.

Now that I have some cloth and yarn that have taken their colour from the post I can begin to work with it.  I will post some further images as the work progresses.

Welcome back

Welcome back to the Quinary12 blog. 

As we are all relying on social media platforms to keep us in touch with our colleagues and to see what other artists are up to, we have decided that now is a good time to refresh and reopen our blog. 

Quinary members will be posting written and visual content relating to their ongoing explorations, research and artistic practice.

During the early part of next year we will be presenting our latest body of work here as an online exhibition. Watch this space for more information in the New Year.