WHERE other graffiti artists use spraypaint, Denise Litchfield uses wool. Litchfield is part of a growing global movement of guerilla knitters, who stitch their handmade creations onto trees, poles, street lights and other objects in the public domain.
“It redefines street art and is also a reference to graffiti,” the Stanmore woman said. “It’s absurd and feminine and fun.”
Using recycled or cast-off yarn, Litchfield has attached her creations to poles and trees in Newtown and Rozelle and her long-term goal is to knit cosies for fire hydrants and bollards.
Ms Litchfield also pokes fun at the notion of a graffiti “tag” by creating cardboard swing tags similar to those attached to items in a boutique.
“I write messages on them and put them on bikes and dogs. One friend said she was walking down King Street and saw a tag that said ‘All your problems have been taken care of’ and thought, ‘Yeah, I needed to hear that,’ ” Litchfield said.
“I have been doing it for about six months and I don’t know of anyone else doing it in Sydney. I haven’t been intercepted by a council ranger yet but often when I put them up people stop to ask what I am doing and to have a chat,” she said.
Litchfield has won the support of a Marrickville councillor, Peter Olive.
“I’d be only too happy for her to do some knitting in the Marrickville local government area,” he said. “I see it as a form of art and it’s not harmful or anyone else’s property or the public space. I think it should be encouraged.”
Emily Howes, an expert from University of Technology, Sydney, and author of a PhD thesis on “indie craft”, said guerilla knitters operated in Scandinavia, the US, Japan and South Africa. She thinks Litchfield might be Sydney’s first.
“I think there is a groundswell of activity. The really big guerilla craft group is a collective called Knitta, which has outposts around the world,” she said. “They see craft as a subversive and politically motivated act – a way of jolting people out of their comfortable reverie.”
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