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Acts of Public Craft

by Sayraphim on July 3, 2013

The other day, Betsy Greer posted this image on her Facebook page, asking for thoughts:

yarnbombschickflick_web

One commenter mentioned that she felt that yarn bombs don’t have the impact they once did, and asked “Maybe the question needs to be: how can public craft be innovative and unexpected now?”

This has got me thinking about street craft and people out there doing things other than cosies on trees. Don’t get me wrong, I think that yarn bombing still has merit in an urban environment, it encourages people to use the skills they have to customise their environment, and it’s a low barrier to entry to the world of street art.

However there are many examples of street craft out there that aren’t yarn bombing and I thought I’d look at a couple today.

In 2008 I was walking down Hozier Lane, arguably Melbourne’s most famous street art lane, and I came across this (by artist Happy) attached to the second story window of a building (Photo by Rayna Faye)

Photo by Rayna Faye

This was the first time I’d seen craft in the wild and I loved it. I was really excited to see it, sitting proudly alongside huge colourful graffiti and stencils by some of the most well known artists from here and around the world. I’d always loved street art, but I can’t paint or draw for the life of me. This, here, was someone using skills and processes I use, to make work on the streets. Suddenly my world opened up and I realised that street craft was something I could also do, it was a way that I participate in the urban art culture.

We’ll start with Deadly Knitshade, the beloved graffiti knitter from London

deadly

Other traditional crafts out in the wild include cross stitching, which itself perfectly to the public realm, be it small like a single figure presewn and attached like this piece by Miss CrossStitch

misscrossstitch_mailand12

 

to a larger protest message sewn across a fence from Rayna Faye (click on the link for the entire story)

iwannalivehere

 

A less well known street craft practice is street origami. These have been appearing through Paris by the talented Mademoiselle Maurice

ZARCTOS-01

 

and Paige Smith’s paper project Urban Geode street art installations have shot around the world via the internet.

geode-3.2

Continuing the ‘street art from stationary’ theme,

Mark Jenkins creates life sized transparent human figures from sticky tape and cling wrap.

baltimore3

 

I wouldn’t have thought it would survive long, but even paper mache can be used for street art, this monster is by Pones.

monster-art2

 

One of my favourite street artists is Junky Projects from Melbourne, who creates little anthropomorphised figures from garbage in the streets and nails them to posts, tiny guardians reminding people that what they throw away stays around forever.

junky

Slinkachu makes tiny satirical dioramas on the street by modifying tiny pre-purchased miniatures from train sets.  

 slinkachu

 

The Pothole Gardener also makes tiny dioramas on the street

knitting-cu

 

Melbourne street artist Psalm is known for his wide variety of styles and media but in the past has incorporated furniture into his works which can be viewed as 3d public craft. (Photo from www.flickr.com/photos/rpt/9645416/)

 

image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/rpt/9645416/

 

Another Melbourne street artist, Be Free, uses furniture and collaged props for her little stenciled girl (photo from www.invurt.com/2011/05/24/interview-fibre-femmes-be-free/)

beFree

 

Space Invader in a French artist who mosacs aliens from the original Space Invader computer game to walls around the world

 spaceinvader

 

Mal Content utalises a ceramics background to create small imp or gargoyle like faces which he attaches to poles and walls in the street

mal

 

Continuing the ceramic theme, Debbie Harman has an ongoing project called Filling the Cracks with Conversation, in which she secures tiny ceramic conversations to cracks in walls and pavements around Victoria, Australia

filling

 

Will Coles is a Sydney artist who works in cast concrete sculptures, examining current cultural trends in ironic and disturbing ways (photo author’s own)

 

Photo by Sayraphim Lothian

See Me Tell Me is a New York street artist who makes tiny resin sculptures and paper collages to leave out for people to find and take –

Bridge Butterflies

 That’s a short round up of some artists working in various craft media on the streets. Do shout out if you know of others!

All images come from the artists’ websites unless otherwise stated, and all copyright stays with the owners of the photos

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Abi July 19, 2013 at 11:26 am

Maybe it’s less about the yarn, and more about the bomber. Do you do it because you want it to have an impact on others, or do you do it to empower yourself? I feel that with street art, and with craft especially, once we start judging it on its impact and aesthetic, we could miss the point, and possibly discourage people from having a go. There will always be street art that is mind-blowingly ahead of the rest, but I’d be sad if ‘ordinary’ people were put off doing what is within their means because they felt it wasn’t having enough of an “impact”.

Sayraphim July 29, 2013 at 3:08 am

Hey Abi, I totally agree with you in respect of not discouraging people from modifying their environment in their own way. As I said, I think Yarn Bombing is an excellent entry point into street art, and for some that’s the medium they are comfortable in and want to stay using. There has been numerous posts/articles about yarn bombing and I wanted to examine how other artists are utalising different types of craft in an urban environment. As a public artist creating small, temporary craft works, I’m always on the look out for others working in my field.

Jasmin Materialised August 23, 2013 at 5:36 am

Abi, absolutely agree with you. With all the amazing work seen on street art sites its easy to become intimidated and start to have a similiar “elist” exclusivity of the gallery.
Power to all craftivist – the streets are not for the competitive careerists only.

Betsy Greer July 19, 2013 at 8:18 pm

What a lovely, thoughtful post, Sayra! And even *more* things to think about!

xx
Betsy

Sayraphim July 29, 2013 at 3:01 am

Thanks Betsy! As soon as I posted it I kept thinking of more artists, but I think it’s a good solid start looking into the street craft world 🙂

m August 23, 2013 at 10:03 am

I think just to put some yarn around something is old hat. What is more interresting is when people are making interventiontions into the public and political space. This is a yarn bomb in Edinburgh protesting about a corrupt and over budget public works project to put trams into the city. Its not cutsy. http://fatblackcatjournal.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/yarn-bomb-edinburgh-to-take-away/

See Me Tell Me August 23, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Thanks for including me on this great post!!

Here are a few additions –
http://www.joeiurato.com/
https://www.facebook.com/RustBucketWorkshop
http://isaac.alg-a.org/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mydogsighs
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wingsglassmosaicstreetart/
http://russellking.tumblr.com/

Not to nit pic but many of us avoid the “craft” designation. It is a bad old fashioned word in the art world. The message is our medium. Would you call (yarn bomber) Olek or (wheat paster) Swoon crafters? No. We are all artists trying to get our message out there and make folks think and smile. If we use “craft” materials or spray paint it is all the same.

See Me!

Sayraphim October 22, 2013 at 12:13 am

That’s an interesting point actually, about the ‘craft’ label. It took me a while to accept it, for a while I felt craft was mainly glitter and crafts with gumnuts, but I think that it’s much more wide ranging than that and by using it, hopefully I can widen public perception of what ‘craft’ actually encompasses. But each to their own and I respect that you arn’t interested in that term. Labels are tricky, Olek rejects the idea she is a yarn bomber, she labels her work ‘art’ rather than anything associated with grannies. This post was really about showing that street art is more than spray cans on a wall and embracing the people who work on the street, outside of the mediums of paint, stickers and paste ups.

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