Strange Material – Leanne Prain – Chapter Six

Illustrative Storytelling

Prain opens this chapter with the line ‘Not all stories are told in the form of words.’ and in most cultures symbolism is used to tell the tales which should have a beginning, middle and end (according to Prain). I disagree with her here as I like to arouse curiosity and prompt people to make up their own endings. With my work I see myself as the instigator of the story but not the concluder.

True to her Canadian roots she gives examples of native Canadian artists work.

Jennifer Annais Pighin Blanket of Understanding utilizes design elements of design from the traditional  clothes of the Lheidi T’enneh First Nation members.


Freddie Robbins is a UK based artist – a subversive knitter. Craft Kills illustrates her work perfectly. frcraftkills12002-

machine knitted wool, knitting needles, 2000 × 680 × 380 mm, 2002

“Craft Kills is a self-portrait based on the well-recognised image of Saint Sebastian being martyred. Instead of arrows piercing my skin I have knitting needles. The title immediately brings to mind the old adage of “dying for your art” but what I am much more concerned with is the stereotypical image that craft, and in particular knitting, has, of being a passive, benign activity. How would it be if craft was considered as dangerous or subversive?   Since conceiving of this piece the world suffered the events of September 11th and its aftermath. You can no longer fly with knitting needles in your hand luggage. Knitting is now classed as a dangerous activity.

(Statement written for Flexible 4: Identities catalogue, 2004)

Photography: Douglas Atfield”

Freddie Robbins thinks carefully about the titles for her work, another attribute I admire.

Bettina Matzuhn works with the metaphors of maps, sails and weather in a textile context.


Tides 2011 360cm h x 270cm w x 120cm d (12’ tall x 9‘wide x 4’ deep)

Cotton canvas, hand embroidery cotton thread, machine sewn sails, hand worked corners/grommets.  Sisal rope, stainless steel tubing, assorted nautical fittings, formed wooden battens, cut plate steel bases.

This article by Bettina is about the functionality of her mother’s craft verses her own work which is often boxed up in crates or shown in white cubed galleries.

The chapter concludes with ideas put forward by Amanda Wood as to how you could make your own textile map.


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