We Mek Knitted magazine cover

WE MEK magazine

2021, Knitting & embroidery

Materials: Acrylic

Size: Width 61 cm x Length 61 cm

Background to WE MEK magazine artwork

This artwork was commissioned by Dr. Karen Patel as part of the Craft Expertise project. For this project, she has worked in collaboration with Crafts Council UK to explore inequalities and diversity in the UK professional craft sector.

“This is a two-phase project which began in March 2019, and has involved a series of research and public engagement activities which have aimed to raise awareness of inequalities in the contemporary UK craft economy. The project has highlighted the various challenges faced by women of colour in the sector including racism and microaggressions in craft spaces, the challenges presented by social media, and issues with gaining recognition as expert makers. The work has informed Crafts Council’s approach to tackling racism and inequality in the craft sector.” Dr. K. Patel

Dr. Patel chose five artists in total to show work at the ‘We Gather Exhibition‘ at the Crafts Council Gallery from 17th November to 5th February 2022. This will be a flagship exhibition for the Crafts Council’s 50th-anniversary celebration.  The other artists are Shaheen Ahmed’, Omeima Mudawi-Rowlings, Francisca Onumah, and Onome Otite. The curators of We Gather are Rosie Ross & Griffi.

 

Symbolism:

Click on the image below to see the symbolism, references and ideas contained in WE MEK.

Link to interactive chart - WE MEK
Link to interactive chart – WE MEK

As I mention on the chart above I was hugely inspired by the photos British-Ghanaian James Barnor took for South African DRUM magazine. The magazine was an influential anti-apartheid magazine based in Johannesburg, and Africa’s first black lifestyle magazine. This year the Serpentine Gallery hosted a retrospective of Banor work

Techniques used:

The magazine cover was knitting on a domestic Knitmaster F-370 fine gauge (3.6 mm) manual knitting machine using two ends of 2/30 industrial yarn. The method used was intarsia where yarn is laid across the needles at each colour change. This makes working very slow and laborious. The finest of gauges add another level of complexity.

Intarsia knitting WWE MEK magazine
Intarsia knitting WE MEK magazine

Some areas such as the jumper, barcode, orange knitting had the fine details embroidered once the knitting was off the machine.

WE MEK knitted magazine cover as it came off the knitting machine
WE MEK knitted magazine cover as it came off the knitting machine

Intarsia knitting creates a lot of ends that need to be sewn in before the embroidery can take place. I don’t actualy sew the ends in using a sewing needle; I use a latch hook tool. I find this quicker and neater.

Sewing in the ends on the back of WE MEK knitted magazine cover
Sewing in the ends on the back of WE MEK knitted magazine cover

As the stitches were very small I needed to use a magnifying glass. The lamp I use is the Daylight D25030 Slimine LED Magnifying Lamp.

Embroidering WE MEK knitted magazine cover
Embroidering WE MEK knitted magazine cover

 

Other knitted intarsia artworks:

Garment of Praise

Knitted toy theatre featuring Leontyne Price and Noah Stewart

A Jumper for Henry Titchener

Knitted Newcastle United Football top

Coco Carmel Knitted Cosy for Shreddies ‘Knitting Nanas’

Soli Deo Gloria – AIRM 2013

 

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