Before starting on three exercises regarding constructed textile samples the course material instructs me to watch a talk by Margaret Wertheim on a project that she did with her sister Christine – they constructed a crochet coral reef which sounded absurd on first reading but in fact is really fascinating.
My first impressions are that these sisters must have been insane to take on such a project but the coral reef is based on mathematical ideas in a physical form but also the involvement of women as 99% of the crochet work has been done by women and what started off as a singular reef has grown into multiple versions worked and exhibited in different countries and exhibition spaces. The actual reefs are literally works of art in their technicality and it is hard to believe looking at photos that they are in fact crocheted – they are textured and as colourful as actual reefs.
I do the like the fact there are recycled materials such as plastic bags and packaging which as the course material states highlights the plight of the polluted waterways throughout the world as well as the bleaching of the reefs caused by rising water temperatures – this raising of awareness of such an essential part of our ocean health and ecosystem I feel, like so many, is desperately important and with luck the crochet reef will continue to grow.
The sisters are using the power of women to create the reef but it does not feel that this is a feminist or political reason but merely that our voices, as women, and our skills can be used to raise awareness of such an important issue and in a different way to how it has been done before.
I really really love the idea of creating this hyperbolic reef although the mathematics has gone straight over my head – Margaret Wertheim is a science writer and interested in the cultural history of physics and all I will say is that physics and myself regarding studying have never mixed and mathematics at the level of which she talks is far beyond my understanding. I am interested personally in Fibonacci sequences in nature and have studied them in my art history module in regards to how they were and are applied to architecture but hyperbolic mathematics? mmmmm I will leave that to the experts!!
If the mathematics can be shown in a crocheted work and in particular in this reef I do think it is an awesome idea but I am more interested in how the reef is constructed, what stitches are used or what materials and seeing photos of the project it does inspire me regarding my use of crochet in my own final project for this course. I have done the exercise on crochet and knitting before watching this talk as I had misread the instructions but really do think now it is to my advantage as I can see potential for some of my crochet ideas and would certainly like to take the crochet forward in combination with other techniques.
What I am starting now to discover is the fact that the textile world can draw on multiple techniques rather than one repetitive one is now playing to my advantage …. I was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and struggle with repetition and this explains my struggles with the crochet and knitting exercise and why I found it tedious at times but having a multitude of techniques at my disposal means I can play with ideas freely and satisfy a restless mind as I seek to find my voice. Now more than ever my textiles are not just becoming my voice due to my partial deafness and a wish to express myself through the use of art but they will become my voice as I seek to convey and express who I am …. my work becomes my unspoken voice and the crochet coral reef inspires me to explore further experimental materials as a form of expression.
crochetcoralreef.org. (date unknown). Christine Wertheim Crochet Reef Co-creator [online]. [Date accessed: May 2017]. Available from: http://crochetcoralreef.org/contributors/christine_wertheim.php
Ted Conferences, LLC. (date unknown). Margaret Wertheim: The beautiful math of coral [online]. [Date accessed: May 2017]. Available from: https://www.ted.com/talks/margaret_wertheim_crochets_the_coral_reef#t-911661