Craft Kills is the first work that I made inspired by the politics of craft and the medium of textiles. I am constantly frustrated and angered by the low regard in which textiles, in particular knitting, are held. The lack of value afforded knitting being rooted in its association with the domestic and the female, evidencing society’s entrenched gender inequalities. Craft Kills is a seminal work. It paved the way for the feminist works that I have since produced. The technical aspects of the work led to my exploration of new knitting technologies and my use of automated industrial digital kitting machinery through which I produced my series of works collectively entitled The Perfect.
The Crafts Council Collection already holds Hand of Good, Hand of God. This earlier work (1997) was driven by a desire to challenge myself technically, playing with the mathematics of knitting and pattern writing. It was part of an ongoing series of works where I was questioning notions of normality and conformity. Both works were made by hand on a domestic knitting machine (hand framed) in my London studio. Both works use the human form, which is a reoccurring theme in my work. Through Craft Kills I was pushing beyond garment size in an attempt to go beyond a domestic scale and make much larger works.
Craft Kills is the most iconic of my works, being the work that I am most often asked for images of, and being reproduced more than any other. It has been reproduced and written about in a wide number of publications including Contemporary Textiles - the fabric of fine art, edited by Nadine Monem, Black Dog Publishing, London 2008, and more recently, Strange Material - storytelling through textiles, Leanne Prain, Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver, Canada, 2014. Curator Sarah Quinton uses an image of this work and reference it in her essay to accompany the exhibition Close to You - contemporary textiles, intimacy and popular culture (Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia and Textile Museum of Canada, Toronto, Ontario), Canada 2007. She aligns the work to that of the American artist Ed Rossbach and Louise Bourgeois. I had been invited to exhibit in this exhibition but was unable to due to pre-existing exhibition commitments. The title of the work, Craft Kills, along with an image, was also used by Suzan Russeler, curator at the TextielMuseum in Tilburg, The Netherlands in the title of an article for ‘Studies in Textiel’ in 2017 published by the Dutch Textile Commission. ‘Craft Kills? About the tension between art, craft and textiles as an artistic medium’.
Craft Kills was first shown in my solo exhibition, Cosy, at firstsite at the Minories Art Gallery in Colchester (2002). The exhibition toured to the Piers Arts Centre in Orkney (2003) and Queen’s Hall, Hexham (2004). This exhibition was a turning point in my career and resulted in a major purchase by the Contemporary Art Society for Nottingham Castle Museum. There is a catalogue to accompany the exhibition with essays by Dawn Ades and Clare Doherty and interview with Linda Theophilus. It was also shown in Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York (2007). This was the first exhibition in North America to include my work and opened up a new international audience for me. A major publication was produced to accompany this exhibition.