For those who don't know, I've been lucky enough to be one of the contributors working with Margaret and Chrissy Wertheim at the Institute for Figuring on their hyperbolic reef. The bleached reef here was crocheted by Chrissy and the beautiful broken red pink corals by the genius that is Helle of Gooseflesh.
Each coral in the reef is crocheted to a mathematical formula (the basic idea is that you increase stitches uniformly by your chosen set amount; 2 to every 3, 2 to 1, 5 to 4, it doesn't matter).
Luckily, Margaret and Chrissy had a wealth of works by international handicrafters at their disposal to fill the space, along with the wonderful enthusiasm and generosity of spirit from many paid and unpaid helpers to arrange it. Here, Tim helps me hang three of my football jellyfish.
Many of the reefs were sewn onto felt-covered upturned baskets to create mounds.
Yarn shops and enthusiasts in the Chicago area were informed about the reef by Catherine Chandler and Lisa Yun Lee at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum
and encouraged to join their artistic outcry.
The result? A band of amazing people, including Cindy here, crocheting like mad, still adding to the Chicago reef as it was put together in the gallery.
With my head down, I tried to curate my own wall of plastic sea creatures. I marked out a warm current swirl in masking tape.
And then Tim and Jocelyn helped me to afix my different sculptures.
Finally, and you can't see this from my terrible photos, (note to self, check camera's shutter speed) we set to, drilling holes for about 1000 white-headed map pins, creating a warm current of spawn in which the pieces sit.
The opening evening, on Friday the 12th October was a whirlwind of wonderful people. Margaret and Chrissy gave a talk, explaining the project and thanking everyone, present and not, for their hard work. (seen here being filmed by documentary maker Shimon Dotan, winner of the Special Jury Prize for Best World Documentary Feature at Sundance Film Festival, whose crew were charming and made us feel very at ease, even when they had a camera but inches from our noses! Shimon has taken a particular interest in the reef project.)
And also the showing off of my wonderful husband beside my fibre work.
And the beautiful twins, Monika and Erika, talented owners and makers of doublestitch
shone out as only they can.
(We blagged our way into their catwalk show a couple of nights later - if you have a wonderful figure and want to show it off, then their crochet urban wear is right up your alley.)
The whole experience will go down as one of the most wonderful weeks of my life. The generosity and friendliness of everyone we met was overwhelming. The trip truly was our pleasure. Chicagee, we loves ya!