So the big day for my first installation of the Knitted Garden dawned – quite literally, as it was a very early start! The van arrived at around 6am to pick up the many bags and boxes containing the thousands of pieces that make up the garden. My lovely husband Rob got up early before going to work to help us load up and in half an hour it was ready for the off, with me following on behind – destination The Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton.
Arriving at the gallery I found quite a crowd awaiting my arrival. The wonderful Tim Russell who has installed the garden at many venues was ready for action alongside the excited Thelma Hulbert team, who couldn’t wait to start opening boxes full of knitted goodies.
Angela Blackwell, the Gallery Curator, had brought together a great team of volunteers and once we had planned the layout, everyone got stuck in setting out the various parts of the exhibition. We were very lucky to have been able to borrow Bob the technician from Bridport Arts Centre for the day. Bob had previously worked on the set up of the garden when it visited Bridport in 2012 and told us he was really looking forward to seeing how it had developed.
Everyone got stuck in and soon the garden began to take shape, growing as it does up the stairs and into the first floor rooms of the gallery over the 2 days of the installation. Luckily I had brought a sewing kit with me, as there were masses of repairs to do to dozens of flowers, many of which had droopy heads or broken stems. It was time well spent though, as you can see from the above photo just how spectacular the flower beds looked by the time we finished. Tim told me that it was the best they had looked for some time, with two of the marvellous THG volunteers working for a whole day to construct the beds. It all looked pretty good by the time it was prepared and loaded with plants.
It’s physically pretty hard work to install the garden, but so worthwhile to see how beautiful it looks and to experience the reactions of the volunteers as they unwrap each new item. The Thelma Hulbert Gallery is beautiful and I am so pleased that they were happy with the installation. I did my first Facebook Live video after the installation, so if you would like a virtual tour of the garden head over to our Facebook page.
So we are a couple of weeks on from the beginning of the exhibition and the feedback has been lovely. The exhibition is on until Saturday June 24th and it is free to enter. If you are down in Devon come and see us and tell us what you think!
As you all know, Blooming Marvellous Knitted Garden “grows” at every venue it visits. This is down to the wonderful talent and generosity of the knitting groups that gather when the exhibit comes to town.
It is always a pleasure to hear from these ingenious crafters, so I was delighted to have had a lovely message from a lady called Lorraine McKee this week. Lorraine leads the amazing Welsh knitting group that made the Knitted Garden’s bird table and surrounding picnic when the exhibit visited Bodelwyddan Castle in North Wales.
Lorraine’s knitting group had been wondering if the Garden was still touring and if their pieces were still part of the exhibit. I was able to tell her that indeed they were still out and about and due to be shown next in May / June at The Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton, Devon. Having sent them some photos of their bird table at one of the more recent exhibitions, I suggested that perhaps a little holiday might be in order for the knitting group so that they could come and visit their work in Devon if they fancy!
When the exhibit was in Bodelwyddan castle, it received a lot of publicity and in fact was once again on TV. Blooming Marvellous Knitted Garden has made it on to TV several times (The One Show, Meridian Tonight) and on this occasion S4C came to have a look at the exhibit. Lorraine very kindly sent me a link to the footage as they look around the Knitted Garden exhibition and although it is in Welsh, never fear as there are subtitles! It is such a lovely piece and I am so grateful to Lorraine for sending it over for me to include on our blog site.
You can watch the Garden’s Welsh TV appearance by clicking this link;
If any other of our other wonderful contributors would like to get in touch to tell us stories about their groups and latest adventures in wool, then we would love to hear from them!
One of the lovely things about the Knitted Garden Exhibit is that people want to really get involved at each venue. Knitting and crochet groups often gather at the exhibition to produce new items for us while they meet for a chat (otherwise known as “knit and natter” or “stitch and bitch” groups!). With this in mind, I thought that a post about the items we would love to see in the garden would point our wonderfully creative knitters in the right direction at future exhibitions.
When I first saw Blooming Marvellous, The Knitted Garden, it was on exhibit in the Red House Museum. It totally blew me away – there was just so much to take in. My niece Fiona and I spent a happy few hours looking at all the tiny detail, taking lots of photos. Looking back over the photos I realise that one of the things that would be completely brilliant to add to the exhibit is background – crazy paving, paths, brick walls, trellis, more lawn areas. This would be an enormous help, as every venue is a different size it would be amazing to completely fill gaps such as bare walls and floorboards. I would particularly love a brick wall with a knitted trained dwarf fruit tree climbing up the side – a pear tree perhaps?
All of the pieces in the Knitted Garden must be to scale – life size in other words. This is particularly important with things like birds and animals, as it can look a bit odd if some of the insects are as big as the cats and so on! We are missing some animals in the exhibit, particularly a fox and a badger. I would absolutely adore to see a big, fat ginger cat in the garden too. There is something about ginger cats that can’t fail to make people smile and a stripy tom would be a very welcome guest.
The exhibition has always been very popular in the summer, but I would very much like to be able to do the “autumn / winter version” of the Knitted Garden, with masses of fallen leaves and a brazier with flames leaping from the top. Pine cones would look great scattered about too.
As the garden is constantly evolving I have set up a Pinterest board with ideas for items the garden needs next. If you are interested in knitting a piece for the garden this may give you some ideas. If you are a venue looking for a touring exhibition that will boost visitor interest, then take a look at our various boards to get an idea of what we can offer and feel free to get in touch to chat about how we can work with you to increase your footfall.
Our Pinterest boards are at;
When Blooming Marvellous – The Knitted Garden is out on tour, the ingenuity of each venue in creating innovative and engaging visitor activities around the exhibition is quite something to behold. Looking through the archives of venue photographs has been a most pleasurable task and I would like to share my some of favourites with you.
One particular visitor activity produced some wacky and witty results. The venue constructed a paper tree on a wall and encouraged visitors to leave messages about The Knitted Garden on bright green, leaf shaped post it notes.
It was lovely to read all of the positive comments that folk made, but some were pretty off the wall and particularly stood out. Firstly there was this young lady (or gentleman) who bemoaned their lack of success in finding love;
Then there were the leaves with special memories of long gone family members;
And stories from the old folk, thinking back to their wartime childhood knitting lessons;
Then there were the little kids who have been inspired by The Knitted Garden;
Lastly come the despairing knitters, struggling with the intricacies of the woolly art;
Our next planned outing for the exhibit is next May, at The Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton, Devon. I hope to be adding lots of new dates soon and I can’t wait to see what activities our venues think up next!
Like most new roles, becoming the curator of Blooming Marvellous, The Knitted Garden has meant a steep and interesting learning curve in the last few weeks. There have been the “nuts and bolts” tasks, like building the new blog site, getting the Facebook page ready to go, checking that the knitting group lists are up to date and researching previous visitor numbers, but by far the most interesting part has been reading about the garden’s history, beginning in 2010.
At every venue the garden grows, thanks to the marvellous knitting groups that form around each exhibition. It is fascinating to look through the photos and see the garden evolve. It makes me realise that there are still lots of projects that would really enhance the exhibition and it’s exciting to think that at each outing the garden will look even more wonderful.
However it isn’t always the knitting groups that add to the Knitted Garden…….at some venues the exhibit has been anonymously yarn bombed! My favourite incident is when suddenly and mysteriously, a perfectly knitted doggy doo doo appeared by the Knitted Garden’s little dachshund. I can’t wait to see what appears at the next venue!
My name is Nicky Prior and I am delighted to have taken over as curator of Blooming Marvellous – The Knitted Garden Exhibit from Pauline Stanley, the originator of the project. Long before I was involved with the project, I saw the exhibition at The Red House Museum and was completely amazed. It is my pleasure to curate and tour the exhibit so that it can be seen and appreciated by people all over the UK.
The Garden has been in hibernation since it’s last outing to The Red House Museum in Christchurch at the end of 2015. It is in fabulous condition and needs to be off on it’s travels once again. If you are a museum, arts centre or gallery who would like more information regarding exhibiting The Knitted Garden, please get in touch.
If you would like Blooming Marvellous – The Knitted Garden to come to a town near you, tell me! Better still, if you can suggest venues for us to approach then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org