Clare grew up in Abingdon, so offered to speak at one of the monthly meetings of Abingdon Carbon Cutters, the local low carbon group. As well as giving an overview of Particulart and climate change, she touched on craftivism more generally (some of the members were involved in knitting the 7-mile-long pink scarf between AWE Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield) and ozone depletion in particular (her first job was as a student assistant in a team researching ozone chemistry down the road at Harwell).
And she got a bit of publicity for it in the Oxford Mail. Particulart may feature again in Oxfordshire in 2016…
“Up in the Air” popped up for a second time at the Relight My Fire festival of energy and the arts in Exeter last weekend. Indoors this time, and slimmed down without roof or games area. It just about fit in the space.
Relight My Fire is run by Regen SW, and is part of Part of Community Energy Fortnight. It brings artists to the streets and venues of Exeter to explore our relationship with energy past, present and future. The energising (and hopefully not enervating) programme includes performances, talks, workshops, activities and pop-up events.
In fact, Relight My Fire’s financial support helped make the pop-up possible. It was part of the RE:FRESH event in the Bikeshed Bar and Theatre.
Regen SW is building a network of creative practitioners who are developing work in the arts and energy space – This networking event will provide a platform for some of those artists to share details of their work and chat over drinks.
It was great to speak to some really interesting people doing great work in this area. One performance artist is living on 15 litres of water a day for a year, just 10% of the UK average. I offered her a loan of my water vapour particle! It featured among the “A Stitch in Time” greenhouse gases, but doesn’t fit easily into the data framework for “Up in the Air” so is sitting on a shelf at the moment.
Relight My Fire also included the launch of a new blog called Power Culture, which explores our energy generation through the arts. Clare has a couple of pieces on the blog, one about Particulart, the other about Didcot Power Station, as you do.
I didn’t know whether ‘Up in the Air’ would be picked up by the local press, but the 23 July edition of Express and Echo gave it a couple of inches in What’s On, just before the end of the show.
On the same day, Chemistry World published an article entitled “Weaving is believing”, which mentioned Particulart among other means of representing chemistry in yarn. Chemistry World is published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, “bringing you the latest chemistry news and research every day”. Can’t get much more illustrious than that!
If you’re still inclined to see knitting and needlework through that stereotypical prism – all Women’s Institutes and tea cosies – you’d better wake up. Knitting is radical. Just look up guerilla knitting, or yarn bombing: textile-based graffiti of a sort that deserves to give street art a good name. Its potential to register gently subversive protest has inspired two artists in the West Country [alright my luvver!], under the name Particulart, to knit molecules implicated in air pollution and climate change: you can download the patterns and make your own cuddly molecules, should you wish.
And the exhibition was featured in a nice post by Nicky Shobeiry on the Glorious Gallery blog.
‘Sulphur hexafluoride’, ‘Tetrafluoromethane’ and ‘Fluorform’ [sic] might not be words you expect to see as part of your everyday art exhibition, but then again, Clare Bryden is not your everyday artist (if there even is such a thing!). With a background in science, economics, energy and the environment, Clare’s ‘Up in the Air’ exhibit is one with a very particular message about our climate. Below, I speak to her about it all – including the importance of squishy knitted molecules.
Clare’s article about Particulart and the wider craftivism movement has now been published in May’s issue of Third Way magazine with the title “Knitting and other revolutionary acts”:
As competing political voices reach election crescendo, could it be that artistic, home-spun forms of activism are more positive and quietly persuasive? Clare Bryden hails the rise of ‘Craftivism’ and explains how knitting can change the world.
It’s available on Third Way website, unfortunately behind a paywall. Update: it’s now also available on this site.
Clare has written a blog post reflecting on the development of Particulart, from the initial spark of an idea in conversation with Diana to the exhibition in Real Food, and the responses it provoked both in her and the visitors to the exhibition. We hope you enjoy the read.
Last night, at somewhat short notice, Clare also gave a St Michael’s Lecture, entitled “Particulart, or the art of knitting, chemistry, meditation and gentle protest”. She liked the title so much, she changed the strapline of this website.
We are in today’s Express and Echo. Page 44 isn’t quite “hold the front page!” but we still got a colour photo!