Wading through the sea of and texture and colour, of shapes that coil and ripple and occur in an infinite variety, creates an overwhelming sense of beauty while alluding to the tragedy of environmental destruction. An exhibit of the Woodstock Art Reef Project (WARP), which is on display at the ELRC for duration of the Re-imaging festival, makes a symbolic statement about the stunning diversity that is being lost as a result of climate change. The community art initiative is a part of a global movement to use crochet handicraft as a way of expressing the threat of climate change on our oceanic eco-systems.
Speaking about the environmental and community driven aspects of WARP, was one of its passionate members, Leonie Hofmeyr-Juritz. She discussed that inspiration for the project came from a larger movement of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef Project, which has spawned satellite projects all over the world, from North America to Europe and Australia, and has exhibited on such prestigious platforms as the Smithsonian Institute.
Describing the science behind using the crochet framework, Hofmeyr-Juritz explained that the shapes of coral reefs display an excess of surface and shape for the purpose of feeding and filtering and catching sun. “Nature embraces a hyperbolic mode of excess...it aims to capture infinity,” said Hofmeyer-Juritz. Because of its reliance on pattern and its ability to increase, crochet is the perfect medium to display the innumerable shapes of coral reefs, their intricate detail and the impressive geometry of their fractal patterns.
But beyond the practical reasons for using crochet as a medium of expression, are its communal, experiential and tangible results. For the volunteer members of WARP, this initiative is a way to participate together in an issue that deeply concerns them, to build community and simply, to contribute beauty. It’s also an alternative way of approaching climate change education, which is often only expressed thorough numbers and statistics, thus keeping the issue in the realm of disembodied facts. WARP represents a new approach to activism and education that aims to empower communities with actions, increase awareness and paint a vivid, life-like picture of environmental concerns.
“It’s been described as maths, feminine-handicraft, environmental awareness,” said WARP’s founding director, Maria van Gass. WARP is a multi-layered community project which involves and reaches an audience who, otherwise, wouldn’t be able to participate in global issues. “It’s a celebration of diversity and abundance,” said van Gass, “What I’d really like people who see our exhibition to leave with is that the world support diversity.”