Units of Possibility: The Reknit Revolution exhibition

Rugby Art Gallery & Museum, 24 June until 2 September 2017

Photographs by Jamie Grey at Rugby Art Gallery & Museum

In her first major solo exhibition Amy Twigger Holroyd aims to share and promote techniques for reknitting: using knitting skills and knowledge to repair and rework existing items of knitwear. Ultimately, she aims to encourage knitters to see the pieces in their wardrobes as ripe for reinvention.

New work includes a large-scale diagram showcasing a comprehensive range of ‘treatments’ that could be used to transform an existing item of knitwear. These processes draw on instructions and examples from the past but also inventively respond to the mass-produced items in our wardrobes today. Each treatment is highly flexible in terms of scale, aesthetic and finish.

A film (available to view on this site), created in collaboration with filmmaker Jonathan Hamilton, communicates the intricacies of the reknitting process and the tacit knowledge involved. A series of works created by local knitters provide evidence of the accessibility and versatility of the techniques, while instructional materials support knitters inspired to have a go themselves.

The exhibition also sees the unveiling of Cathedral Cardigans, a series of five reknitted cast-offs that interpret the construction details of gothic cathedrals in diverse ways. For Twigger Holroyd, these architectural icons share ornamental flourishes with traditional crochet and knitting. The buildings also offer great inspiration in terms of remaking, with physical breakdown and the whims of fashion having created patchworks of repair, rebuilding and extension.

In conceptual terms, Twigger Holroyd aims to explore ‘radical openness’ in the fashion system by tinkering with the things that surround her, and encouraging others to do the same. This spirit is perhaps most evident in her ‘stitch-hacking’ process, in which the stitches of a knitted fabric are reconfigured to retrospectively insert a new structural design.

Twigger Holroyd’s reknitting work was originally developed during her PhD at Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, completed in 2013. Her doctoral research has also formed the foundation of a book, Folk Fashion: Understanding Homemade Clothes.

Her reknitting work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at venues including the Open Data Institute in London, the Centre for Craft, Creativity and Design in North Carolina and Łódź Design Festival, Poland. A stitch-hacked piece was acquired by the Crafts Council’s Handling Collection in 2012.

Nottingham Trent University, where Twigger Holroyd is a Senior Lecturer in Design, Culture and Context, has provided technical support for Units of Possibility. The exhibition will tour to the Knitting & Stitching Show in London and Harrogate in Autumn 2017.

Free talk and tour of the exhibition on Saturday 29 July at 1pm – and bring your potential reknitting project to discuss with Amy on the same day from 2–3pm.