Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vogue Knitting Tour

The blog title says that occasionally there will be a wee bit of knitting content on the blog, so today Koko is going to take a nap while I tell you about the Vogue Knitting Tour at the Downtown Knit Collective from a couple weeks ago. *

DKC Vogue Knitting Tour

Held at U of T's Innis College, the DKC Vogue Knitting Tour featured a fashion show of all the knits from the most recent Vogue Knitting magazine (the Made-in-Canada edition), as well as a preview of what's to come from the editor in chief Carla Scott of Vogue Knitting and Knit Simple. I've come to the conclusion that no matter how beautiful the photography is, you simply can't do justice in 2D to such a tactile art. You only get a hint of the feel and drape of the garment or fabric. Some pieces I knew I would love (like Robin Melanson's Greenland which is even more beautiful in person than on the page) but others which did not interest me much from the magazine proved to be stunning in person (Svetlana Avrakh's Nordic Tradition). The trunk show and preview were followed by many talks/demonstrations by other Canadian knitters/designers - Fiona Ellis (one of my favourite designers, teachers and people - take a class with her or go to a lecture by her if you ever have a chance; she's pretty amazing!), Denise Powell aka Dr. Knit, Danny Ouellette, Dorothy Siemens, Joanne Yordanou, Debbie New
and Kirk Dunn.

All the presenters were very interesting, but I was blown away by Debbie New and Kirk Dunn.

I think with Debbie New, I just let my jaw fall on the ground for the entire talk so there are no pictures. It is difficult to describe her - she is simply amazing, inspiring, outlandish and brilliant. She does things with yarn that at times is bewildering, magical and always unexpected...hence the name of her book Unexpected Knitting. I have never seen anything like her - I loved her cellular automaton approach to knitting, the ouroborus and labyrinth knitting. I am not sure I could or would ever attempt any of these except in my dreams, but it was very refreshing to hear her and to see some of these pieces.

Kirk Dunn
's work was beautifully compelling, vibrant, astonishing and inspiring. Not only is the end product - the knitted stained glass windows (incomplete so far) - quite magnificent in and of themselves, but his design process is very interesting especially the way that he approaches colour (he apprenticed with Kaffe Fassett and you can certainly see that influence) both in the design and in the actual mixing of colour and texture when he is knitting. I am going to describe this quite badly and not do his work justice, so if you ever get a chance to see his work and/or hear him speak, don't let my paltry interpretation turn you off! Basically what he is doing is designing and knitting three 5' x 8' stained glass windows, each of which represents three religions - Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Each of the windows contains iconic imagery represented by that religion; some of the images are positive, some are negative, and investigate/contemplate the similarities, differences and conflicts both within and between the religions. From a design process standpoint, he studied stained glass technique and colour, and then interpreted this in a knitted fabric. The project is about half way done at this point; he has completed the window of Christianity, and is about half way through the Judaic window. He did bring some of the pieces to the show, and I gathered my wits about me enough to take some photos:

Kirk Dunn - Christianity Panel Detail

In this photo you see most of the lower half of the window of Christianity. The panels making up the cross depict the positive/important images of Christianity - Jesus on the cross, the good Samaritan, the lion and the lamb (and you can't see it at the top but the dove of peace is in the last panel at the top of the cross). The panel on the bottom left alludes to the misogyny and homophobia of the church, the panel on the bottom left alludes to the Medieval Crusades and how much war was and is done in the name of God (note that it is the Crusader that is impaling Christ while he is on the cross).

Kirk Dunn - Barbed Wire & Star of David Detail

This is the panel on the top left of the Christianity window - it represents the idea that the church could have done more to help the Jewish people during the Holocaust.

Kirk Dunn - Lion and Lamb Detail

Close-up of the lion and the lamb panel.

Kirk Dunn - Burning Bush Detail

This is the panel on the top right of the Christianity window - the burning bush alludes to the history of persecution in the religion.

This work is amazing, and I can't wait to see it completed and properly displayed and explained. It is thoughtful, provocative, and beautiful. I think all three windows together will be quite powerful.

All in all it was a very good time. I spent a lovely day with my good friend Cristina (aka Avid Knitter), who is my knitting mentor, and with a fellow knitter Antonella, who was looking very beautiful that day despite not having been well! We spent that evening celebrating Tracy Tracy's xx birthday with all of our knitter friends from In The Loop - dinner at the previously mentioned Boulevard Cafe followed by cake and knitting at Elayne's house...


* You may see more knitting content on the blog in the near future, since Koko has been leading a very quiet and uneventful, nap-ridden life.


Kelly said...

Love the Christian stain glass panel a lot!

KnitNana said...

OH MY! What a work of art! This is going to be amazing...
(Head scritches to Koko!)

Creativehands said...

I followed the link to read about the Stitched Glass and...
Thanks for sharing your day. I was VERY tempted to go along with that Vogue Knitting salute to Canada, but didn't make it happen.
I'm sure glad that you did.