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Knitting Nottingham draws spotlight on city’s creative influence 

1 Nov 2014

November will be all about knitwear as Nottingham Trent University draws the spotlight on the city’s position as a world centre of creativity and innovation with the launch of a major exhibition, Knitting Nottingham.

Tea sets made from electro-plated knit, exhibits by internationally renowned designers, samples of 3D print combined with knitwear and technology embedded into yarn will all be part of the exhibition which will be held at Bonington Gallery from Thursday 6 November 2014.

Knitting Nottingham casts off the comfortable, cosy image of knit and introduces visitors instead to the technological advances made over the centuries and knit’s vast potential.

Ian Mcinnes, Principal Lecturer in Fashion Knitwear and Textile Design at the University, said: “We are delighted to have a diverse range of well-established and new emerging creatives who use knitting to explore innovative ideas and products. This exhibition is a milestone in capturing the history of knitting innovation in Nottingham and its international reach and showcasing how this history has influenced and inspired future focused research and the global knit and textile industries.”

Ever since 1589, when William Lee invented the knitting machine in Calverton, Nottinghamshire has been at the heart of global innovations in both knit design and technology and Nottingham Trent University continues to be the research hub in leading knitting innovation.

The exhibition has been organised as part of the University’s anniversary of 170 years of art and design. Among those the University has to thank for the establishment of a design school in Nottingham are companies involved in the burgeoning knitwear industry at the time who helped fund Nottingham’s Government School of Design in 1843. In 1863, a pair of locally made stockings was buried in the foundations of that school’s new building, Waverley, which remains part of the School of Art & Design at Nottingham Trent University to this day.

Ann Priest, Pro Vice-Chancellor at Nottingham Trent University, said: “This exhibition is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate how Nottingham is at the forefront of pushing the creative potential of an industry with such strong connections to the city and it felt only right to recognise that during our 170th anniversary celebrations.”

Current research into the potential of knitting and knitted structures being developed at Nottingham Trent University will be displayed, including work by academics Will Hurley and Catherine Challender who have machine-knit a complex structure resembling the delicate individual bronchial tubes of a pair of lungs created on knitting machine to demonstrate the creative possibilities of industrial machinery.

Danish fashion designer, Henrik Vibskov, renowned for his use of knit not only in fashion but also in interior design and art installations, will be showing five pieces of work selected from collections made during his career.

Other exhibits on display include a knitted tea set, created by Frances Geesin who electro-plates knit to create rigid forms and Laura McPherson, a visiting lecturer at Nottingham Trent University who takes the 3D element of knit a stage further with her collaborative pieces. Working with designer Mark Beecroft, she incorporates elements of 3D printed materials directly into knit to create movement and flexibility within printed forms.

In addition, through kind loan from BBC Radio Nottingham, a framed poppy knitted by Paul Smith as part of the station’s Big Poppy Knit appeal to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War, will be on display.

Visitors on the opening day on 6 November are being encouraged to wear an item of knitwear and have their picture taken to add to a growing “knit wall”. This is a wall of the gallery’s atrium space which will be dedicated to photographs of people in and around Nottingham wearing their knitwear.

Knitting Nottingham will be held at Bonington Gallery from Thursday 6 November to Friday 28 November.