Scottish textile artist Jo Hamilton pushes the boundaries of crochet with her subversive “crochet paintings”. Ranging from strikingly colored portraits to cityscapes painstakingly sewn from recycled yarns, her nuanced textile pieces play with color, line and texture, challenging our traditional perceptions of crochet as an art form. Arguably a pioneer in the field of figurative crochet art, Hamilton uses her work to comment on the complex issues plaguing society today, with a particular focus on the impending climate crisis. In fact, the artist’s most recent body of work, which was exhibited last November, critically addresses humanity’s strained relationship with the environment and the devastating impact it has on our planet.
“transient intrusion deals with my feelings about how the human race interacts with the natural world, idealizing it and destroying it simultaneously with too many man-made things,” Hamilton told My Modern Met. “In my concern (and slight obsession) with the climate crisis of plastic pollution, I have also started recycling as much plastic waste from my own home as possible into ‘plarn’ to use for my work.”
Plan is a plastic yarn made from discarded disposable plastic, such as recycled grocery bags and other common plastic waste. Hamilton makes his own by cutting the handles and bottom of plastic bags, then cutting them into loops which are then tied together to create two-ply strands of “thread”. And she’s used everything from frozen food bags to toilet paper wrappers to create the materials for her crochet masterpieces. The artist pledged years ago to no longer buy new yarn due to the pollution created during its manufacturing process and the negative impact it has on the environment. Instead, she only uses her homemade plarn and any regular yarn she can find second-hand.
This adds another dimension to his work, which goes beyond simply commenting on these problems by becoming part of the solution. However, Hamilton knows there is still a long way to go. “While I feel a little better about keeping some plastic waste out of landfill and the oceans, I think the responsibility for the plastic crisis should lie with manufacturers, businesses, and here in the United States, the federal government.” , explains the artist. .
From the painstaking and tedious process of creating his own shot, to the sheer scale and complexity of each of his pieces, one can only imagine the amount of time and effort that went into each extraordinary composition. Hamilton’s very first crochet work of art, I crochet Portland, took him more than two years, as well as his very first series of crochet portraits. Ultimately, each point serves a larger purpose: to get people thinking and reassessing the impact our daily lives and habits have on the world around us.
“I hope that the subjects and materials can help us reconsider our relationship with both the artificial and natural worlds, and that we will be able to pull ourselves back from the fast approaching tipping point where stuff man-made disposables of planned obsolescence will shut down the natural world, and us for good,” Hamilton says. “I hope that my own very slow way of working, in opposition to the frenetic pace of modern life, might encourage us to slow down, appreciate what we have, and quench our thirst for more.”
Scroll down to see images of Hamilton’s stunning crochet artwork. Her work will be exhibited again next year in October 2022 at the Timeless Textiles Gallery in Australia. Until then, keep an eye out for any new work by following the artist on Instagram. And you can even commission your own piece by visiting the artist’s website.
Each piece is made from recycled yarn that is either second-hand or made from recycled plastic.
Hamilton’s intricate crochet art, particularly her portraits, pushes the boundaries of traditional craftsmanship as an artistic medium.
Jo Hamilton: Website | Instagram | Facebook
My Modern Met has granted permission to use photos of Jo Hamilton.
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