I have titled my Degree show piece ‘Safe Place’. It is inspired by so many influences including artists, movements and personal experiences. My aim was to create an environment where no matter who walk in to in, felt immediately comforted and safe. The reason for this was inspired by my best friend who is like a sister to me. We met when we were 2 years old and have been best friends ever since. At the beginning of the academic year she was made homeless whilst a couple months pregnant, so had to take refuge at a women’s shelter. The domestic difficulties she experienced and that I helped her through encouraged me to create a space where everybody is equal, respected and comfortable.
I began to brainstorm what I found safe and comforting. With the initial intention to yarn-bomb or crochet for my piece, I immediately knew this would come in place with crochet being the most comforting thing I do. The process of crochet is very therapeutic as well as the comfort you feel surrounded by it. I’ve always been surrounded by textiles such as knitting, crochet and embroidery growing up from when I was very young, which is why I may find it such a huge comfort in my life.
The next thing I felt relaxed and comforted by was the beautiful outdoors; the sight of flowers in bloom and a great breath of fresh air. Despite what may seem like a contradiction I want to play with this. Traditional women’s craft which is typically a hidden hobby in the domestic sphere, was to be brought to the great outdoors amongst a garden where you can breathe and instantly feel relaxed.
Having researched in to Craftivism throughout my second and third year of university, I felt that this was an opportunity to protest domestic violence and create awareness of the services and support available to anyone in these situations.
People may not realise how much you don’t appreciate services such as women refuges or charities until you or a loved one is in need for the use of one. After the trauma and difficulties my best friend went through, I want to ensure that I can continue to support these services for men and women in unsafe domestic situations, through art, donations and awareness.
Post-Degree Show I wish to keep my granny squares and attach them together to create blankets for the homeless people on the streets of London. I hope to continue to raise awareness of domestic abuse for both men and women and the importance of the wonderful services provided for people in need.
I have been having many conversations with Madina on my course about our degree show work. Her piece only a short walk away from mine, ties in really well together. She is looking in to the Suffragette movement and has created a bunting of washing lines across the garden behind the PTBM studios. Strictly keeping her colours to black and white, we believe there is an interesting contrast between our work but with similar intentions. We have both been keeping each other’s spirits up throughout the difficult weather conditions, both working outside. I also recommended a couple of artists to her which I think relate to her piece, and she has assisted me with simple conversations about technical aspects of my work and how we can make our pieces work together.
On Saturday 27th May I headed in to university to help out with the clearance of the PTBM studios and set up of exhibition walls and space. It was such a hot day but together, everybody working in a team and communicating efficiently we managed to get it done within good time.
My mum has always been a huge inspiration to me. Always encouraging my creative side as a child and young adult, we used to cross stitch together on holiday and always enjoy creating together. She taught me how to crochet during my first year of university, so was excited to hear about my degree show project. She crocheted granny squares in her spare time around work and other commitments to send to me in the post for my piece. My mum came in to assist with the installation of my work for 2 days, Saturday 3rd June and Monday 5th June. Having her there was a huge help as we worked as a team – one person to attach the panels to the staircase and the other to attach the squares together in preparation for this.
Collaborating with my mum was particularly important to this project as it was difficult to have technical conversations with people at university about the installation of the work or to fix any hiccups along the way due to the medium I chose. This is something I had to remain patient with and accept as the medium was a choice of mine and I had to be aware of technical difficulties when I undertook this challenge.
I found out through peers on my course that Gema also planned on using compost in her Degree show piece. With the convenience of having a car at the time, I offered to drive both Gema and I to the garden centre to get the compost and bring it straight to uni. I also bought some bark chip, to create a definitive path through the space with compost either side to bed colourful flowers in bloom. Laying down the compost and bark chip, I decided the best option was to lay tarpaulin on the ground, with the compost and bark chip on top, for an easier de-installation process and to ensure the compost could be re-used by Pete if he so wishes.
My first year helper, Michelle, helped me with this process of laying it all down and spreading it out. After getting half way, it was quite clear we were in need of a lot more compost and bark chip to fill the space sufficiently. So as we were unsure when Michelle would be able to help me next, we decided to head straight back to the garden centre and finish the garden today – which we did! Michelle was a fantastic help for this process, on a boiling hot day and a fair bit of heavy lifting, I’m sure I would have struggled to cope on my own.
Crochet is a very time-consuming medium, so it was vital that I was able to add little by little to the staircase, rather than a vast amount crammed in to a small amount of installation time. A big challenge of working outside is being able to work around weather conditions. In the images shown above, some days over the installation period of Degree show were extremely hot. Temperatures got as high as 26c which was very testing as I was working direct sunlight. Pete, a technician from woodwork saw me working on my piece in the sun and made me a DIY parasol consisting of an umbrella cable tied to a long piece of wood to protect me from the sun! It was so considerate of him and saved me in the heat a lot. I’d been speaking to Pete previously about my piece, and getting advice from him as I plan to create a garden on the ground and bed some flowers to create a walkthrough experience.