Monday, September 14, 2009

Putting a new spin on vandalism as guerrilla knitters weave havoc

Published Date: 14 September 2009
By CLAIRE GARDNER
HERE'S a good yarn from Inverness. A pair of "guerrilla knitters" have covered landmarks around the city in bright red wool.
Now giant pompoms hang from lampposts, crocheted spider webs have been strung across alleyways and tombstones in the city's ancient graveyard adorned with cosies.



Organisers hope the fun-filled scheme, also called "yarnbombing", will entice visitors and shoppers to the city centre.

The project, which used 45 miles of red wool, has been set up to transform Inverness city centre as part of a £300,000 taxpayer-funded project.

The installation, organised by Inverness Old Town Art (Iota),

forms part of a project to celebrate the regeneration of the city's Old Town.

Annie Marrs and Jennifer Cantwell are the two artists behind the art group's latest scheme in Inverness.

Previous projects include Inverness in Pants, when large papier-mache briefs were strung up across the city's Church Street.

The pair spent three months knitting the woolly street furniture and insist the public money is going to good use.

Ms Marrs said: "The idea is to create something which is quite feminine, tactile and craft-based and bring it into a concreted, brick world.

"We deliberately chose to use blood red and the idea is that we are connecting spaces like an arterial line through the town.

"Our work is about love and bringing a nurturing feeling back to the city."

The artists began their prank at 5:30am last Monday and were granted permission from the city's Old High Church to place the woollen decorations on the historic tombstones.

However, critics have branded the scheme a waste of taxpayers' money claiming the cash could have been better spent on improving local services.

But a spokesperson for Iota said: "Focusing on costs of events may mean the actual social and promotional benefits to the area and arts community are overlooked."

There has been mixed reaction to the woollen stunt.

Mary Scanlon, the Conservative Highlands MSP, was less than impressed. She said: "I am far from convinced that giant pompoms are the best way to promote the city. Art is meant to be challenging, but I do think it is disrespectful to cover gravestones in wool."

However, Claire Barnes, 20, a receptionist at the Ramada Jarvis Hotel in Church Street insisted they had made a positive impact on the city centre.

She said: "I think the red balls look really attractive, they brighten up the place."

STITCH IN TIME

THE 21st century has seen a resurgence of knitting.

Celebrities including Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Cameron Diaz and Russell Crowe have all been seen knitting and have helped to popularise the revival of the craft.

The internet has also created a thriving online knitting community allowing knitters to connect, share interests and learn from each other.

Blogging and tweeting have also helped fuel the development of an international knitting community.

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