Posted July 3, 2017

The GLAD Rappers Are Much More Than a 'Group of Knitters'

If you’ve visited Fed Square recently, chances are you’ve admired the beautiful yarn bombing on the trees courtesy of the talented team behind the GLAD Rappers.

Never heard of yarn bombing you say? Well, you’ve probably walked straight past it without realising. Yarn bombing is the practice of using knitted or crochet yarn to cover typically public objects. Trees, boulders, bikes and street signs are all canvases for knitting needles to get to work on and the result is a type of street art.

Annette Fitton and Lynn Berry are the driving forces behind the Fed Square installation. They began knitting as children, taught by the older generations within their families and continued through school and right throughout adulthood. “We love facing the design challenges of yarn bombing, using our imaginations, making, knitting, crochet, expanding our skills, finding new opportunities and working as a team,” Lynn and Annette explain. “Like all artists, we thrive on the positive feedback people give our work.”

The GLAD Rappers formed in 2014 with Annette, Glynis, Liz, Deb, Renee (who has since left the group) and Susan. Their first project together was one for InDesign Melbourne in which they decorated three flights of stairs in a worn-out building. This is just one of the many projects they list as highlights, others include their ‘Art Town’ Chapel Street Precinct entries in 2015 and 2016, yarn bombing a room at The Johnston Collection Museum for Christmas 2016 (which was when Lynn joined the team), and now their Fed Square project for Winter Solstice.

“We were keen to create an installation with a point of difference that showcased knitting and crochet using superior technique and execution,” Lynn and Annette say. “We were also keen to make Fed Square and Melbourne proud.” They did this by tapping into the winter theme using knitted and crocheted white lace and pom poms to represent frost and snow. The white pieces on the black backgrounds maximises the work for both daylight and night viewing.

They commenced work on this project at the end of February, which needed 12 knitters and crocheters, along with six pompom makers. Ten of them worked from 9am-7pm installing the lace and pompoms two days leading up to the Winter Solstice Festival of Welcome.

Time isn’t the only challenge the GLAD Rappers face in their day to day work; additional obstacles include making the designs fit the object they’re yarn bombing perfectly, OH&S which comes into play particularly when dealing with public property, funding for materials and installation, and a big one is being taken seriously as textile or fibre artists rather than just a ‘group of knitters’.

Once you see the craftsmanship that has gone into the work on the Fed Square trees, it’s clear the GLAD Rappers are much more than knitters – they are true artists!

The Yarn in the Square will be on display until 31 July, 2017.