Crafting the Jubilee

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Preparations for the Diamond Jubilee this weekend are in full swing; London appears to have turned red, white and blue. As I trawled, online, through links to potential weekend festivals, adventures and features I couldn’t help be notice the variety of craft based celebrations. Cath Kidston are to release a special edition knitted ‘guard’; one ardent Royal fan has knitted the scene of the Queen’s boat pageant and later in the Jubilee week, Stitch London are to host a ‘Jubilee Picnic’ that celebrates ‘National Knit in Public Day’ as well as 60 years of the Queen.

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(Knitted Guards, available in Cath Kidston shops 1/06/12)

With many arguing that the ‘revival of craft’ is related to senses of nostalgia I do find myself examining the relationship in context of the Jubilee celebrations. Oxford Street is adorned with Union Jacks and sitting amongst those flags flies ‘CRAFT IS GREAT’. Notions of heritage are of course reworked, as though to evoke a sense of life sixty years ago. Yet life is very different and I’m not sure what this renewed fervour for craft within these celebrations does to the ‘status of craft’. Many of the craft celebrations are ‘make your own cake stand’ or ‘make your own bunting’. The paper plates (below) that mock the design of china memorabilia evokes an essence of craftsmanship in the design, but ultimately are made cheaply, on paper rather than china, are mass manufactured and have a different temporality (ultimately after a few soggy sandwiches they’d be for the bin.)

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I’m still undecided about the status of craft in the Jubilee; I am interested in paper plates and the idea of evoking craft symbolically, but materially lacking the skill or the sustained material experience in making, that scholars like Glenn Adamson would associate with the term. Often, being fortunate to be so immersed in knitting and its contemporary practice, I underestimate the ‘wow’ factor experienced by viewing designs such as the knitted boat pageant.  This still very much reworks perceptions of knitting, which makes me think that although the knitted celebrations may seem to correlate with a sense of nostalgia – to focus too much on this would negate the power of contemporary knit practice. I, for one, hope to have my needles and yarn at the ready for Knit in Public Day.

(Knitter Shelia Carter, 75. Shelia has worked five hours each day, on the project, since January, which in total has used 400 balls of wool)

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