Knit the Walls – making a woolen wall and connections with Southampton and its people, past and present

Knit the Walls – making a woolen wall and connections with Southampton and its people, past and present

‘Knit the Walls’ emerged from the realisation that while Southampton’s medieval walls have witnessed the everyday lives of millions of the city’s residents over hundreds of years, the stories we hear of the city’s past are the big events, those of national and international importance.

But we each live our own day to day existence, with small occurrences and stories comprising our individual important lived experiences – often of no interest or consequence to anyone but ourselves and those close to us. ordinary people, living our own extraordinary lives. in particular, though not exclusively, the daily lives of women are under-represented in the records of the city. 

‘Knit the Walls’ is an ongoing knitting project, involving many of Southampton’s residents in the co-production of a woollen version of Southampton’s Medieval city walls.

“‘Knit the Walls’ is a portal through which we can connect with women of the past, through actions now,” explains the project’s founder, Sarah Filmer.

“Southampton’s old town nestles within Medieval stone walls. During a residency in God’s House Tower, built in 1338 as a defence tower at the south-east corner of the town walls, I wondered how we might access or channel the stories witnessed by the walls over 700 years, and somehow held by the stones. 

‘Knit the Walls’ emerged from these musings.

“Together we talk, wonder, and knit, and by implication, write the forgotten women of herstory back into the ancient stones.

“The invitation to residents of Southampton and visitors to the city to sit together and knit encourages the sharing of who and how we are, through conversations that would not otherwise take place. With loose tongues and busy hands, those stories are knitted, stitch by stitch, into this ever growing warm, protective, woolly and decorative record of knitters today – the countless knitted stones holding, in their stitches, the time and relations of their makers, as the old walls hold energies and records of the city’s past. this is a space to come and play, knit, to be creative or just to chat, laugh and be surrounded by community.”

There is no pattern for this project, which was founded in 2016. Each knitter is invited to knit freely, the wool and needles becoming a tool of expression. As the stones in the walls are each different, so are the knitted stones – an assortment of size, shape, skill, and colour. 

Knitting has long been a way to bring people together for social contact and sharing news, though rarely as a pattern-less, in the moment, sensory and expressive creative practice. Sarah Filmer’s previous community knitting work ‘The Blue Jumper’ has been included in this exhibition.

Across three weekends in November, starting from 12th, on Fridays to Sundays, ‘Knit the Walls’ will be active in God’s House Tower, Southampton. All materials are supplied. Why not take a seat, pick up some knitting and add your knitted stories to those of the hundreds of people who have already contributed to the knitted wall?

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