Artist Lisa Hellier at Colony 14 Cardigan –
‘Conversation’ is a knitted response to Joanna Bond’s project Singing the Line into Existence. My response was to support them by Knitting the Railway Line into Existence through a series of knitted conversations as if we were sitting on a train. I always knit on trains. Actually usually people are very curious to see someone doing something so personal, so tactile,
so colourful in that sterile environment, it brings some homeliness to the carriage. I like to make myself at home on trains. It takes the awkward edge off sitting so close to strangers, having something interesting to do.
The actual knitted railway line is simply inspired by rail depiction on old OS maps, the black and white line wending along the contours of the map punctated by the round red stations.
Someone sits down right opposite us on a train and there is an intimacy right there, immediately a gleaning of information and subconscious judgements are made. Sometimes nothing is said ( white or black section with pattern). Sometimes we test the water with a small comment or joke ( one line of colour – ‘one liner’). And then perhaps a conversation is struck up (and as it develops judgements we have made get left behind with the passing landscape) and we begin to see the person in colour. Actually I enjoy making a whole story up about the person opposite me. The colour changes as we get to know the person. We are both knitting different ends of the same line, heading in different directions but ultimately connected. As we are all connected.
Coversations vary. Sometimes a short passing of a piece of information (grey?) is enough, or a comment about the lansdcape/weather (dusky plum and silver?) which could lead on to a more in depth conversation about anything at all, (red and orange? or maybe mustard yellows with pink?). Humour is there (fluffy wool?) and sometimes the story is very complex (pattern, cable stitch) we learn something we didn’t know (for this I have an old book of fancy stitches). We hear the same thing again (repeat patterns) sometimes it’s not the full story (holes), sometimes when we need the person to share some information with us (a knitting lesson, or help with a stitch that we didn’t know before). People get off. (drop a stitch) people get on (add a stitch) people swap seats (cable stitch)
The whole journey is represented. Perhaps the colour or texture of the passing landscape is knitted, maybe an atmosphere is created – maybe something red catches the eye in an otherwise green scene. Metaphorically speaking the conversation may have red warning flecks in it. People knit what they are going through at the moment. This is reflected in the tension of the work.
Tension is important in knitting; there is tension when we have to sit that close to a stranger. We pay attention.
Sometimes we can have a conversation with ourselves as we try and work something out (learn a new pattern) sometimes we need impartial advice to help us (read out the pattern to someone as they execute it)
In life we carry conversations with us on our journey through life, skills we learn are passed on through conversations – knitting itself is passed down through generations – down the line. The knitted line can be seen as a printout of our lives’ journey.
And it would also be very nice if they would reopen the line south from Aberystwyth. I’m going to keep knitting the line until I can get on that train.