MERL: Making, Using and Enjoying: The Museum of the Intangible

Throughout February and March this year, I ran a series of workshops at the Museum of English Rural Life. They were called Knit a Song of Shepherds; Knit a Song of Shetland; Knit a Song of Silkworms; and Knit a Song of Sheep Bells. The video below was made during research for the final workshop.

These workshops were designed to open up and share the dual creative processes of knitting and listening that underpin my KNITSONIK (knitting + sounds) practice. In each session, a specially selected yarn and related set of sound recordings were used together to deepen our relationship with the Museum collection and its objects.

Small knitting projects enabled us to materially engage with textiles produced by working agricultural landscapes, while sounds foregrounded the textures, animals, people and places lying behind our yarns. Through interconnected processes of knitting and listening, we explored shepherd smocks; a pair of gloves knitted in Shetland for a British Council exhibition; UK silk production (sericulture); and sheep bells. Short recordings made at the end of each session documented our thoughts and experiences so that the sounds of everyone who participated may be woven into a final, celebratory sound piece: Knit A Song of Stitches. All the outcomes from this project will appear here in coming days so that those of you who couldn’t make it along in person can get a sense of what we did, experienced and felt in this rich, creative investigation of the MERL’s object collection.

It was absolutely beautiful to KNIT and SONIK with those of you who attended; I hope you enjoyed these workshops and learnt as much in them as I did. Thank you to all who attended!

The workshops and their accompanying audio are part of a larger endeavour entitled Exploring Yarns and Sheep-Related Artefacts through Knitting and Sound. This has been commissioned by the MERL for the project Making, Using and Enjoying: The Museum of the Intangible. The project is funded by the Arts Council England (ACE) Designation Development Fund.

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