A collective celebration of colorful creatures is taking form in an amazing crochet project that aims to raise awareness about the threats to delicate ocean ecosystems. The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is growing organically with the clicking of crochet hooks and the determination of skilled, multi-disciplinary crafters from around the world. Together, they will produce a massive crochet version of the Great Barrier Reef to serve as an engaging textile testimony to the pollution and climate change that threaten this natural wonder.
The idea originated between Christine and Margaret Wertheim, sisters from Queensland, Australia, who between them count science, art, math, handicrafts, social and environmental activism among their shared passions. A call for crafters through the Institute for Figuring brought a flood of crochet contributions from inspired creatives who, like the Wertheim sisters, had deep knowledge and appreciation of diverse disciplines. Handmade coral forms, jellyfish, flatworms and anemones poured into the Crochet Reef which has now grown to cover more than 3,000 square feet.
Like its ocean counterpart, the Crochet Reef is ever-evolving. “Every person who takes up this craft creates new species of crochet organisms and we have come to see the project as a collective experiment in textile-based evolution. Just as all living creatures result from variations in an underlying DNA code, so the species in these handi-crafted reefs arise from deviations in a single simple algorithm. Slight variations in the kind of yarn, changes in the rate of increasing stitches, even shifts in crochet tension make significant differences to the morphology of the finished form,” the Wertheims said in their artist statement for an exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center.
The Crochet Reef project is driven by a sense of “ecological urgency”, not only for the Great Barrier Reef but for the health of all the world’s oceans. In its fulfillment, the project is a voice of the witness from those that recognize the beauty, intricacy and endlessness of the Great Barrier Reef, and root that appreciation in the study of forms, patterns and geometric possibilities that come from a mix of scientific and artistic inquiry.
In 2008, the International Year of the Reef, exhibitions of the Hyberbolic Crochet Coral Reef will be held in New York on April 5th at NYU’s “Broadway Windows” space and the Winter Gardens at the World Financial Center in Battery Park City. Both exhibits, hosted by the New York Institute of the Humanities, will be displayed like giant aquariums. The Crochet Reef will also be in London at the Hayward Gallery from June 6 – August 18. “Sister city” reefs are also underway in New York and London with support from the New York Crochet Guild, the Harlem Knitting Circle, the UK Craft Council and the Norton Family Foundation. + The Institute for Figuring Via New York Times