Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ruth Marshall

Ruth Marshall and I first connected on Facebook. I was just totally astounded by her amazing knitting.

This piece, "Lacey Rocky", is sweet, charming and old-fashioned, with a kind of folk-art feel to it.
The other knitted pieces are, well, knitted reptile and animal skins.

Beautifully knit.

This is a full knitted pelt. Ruth Marshall's website has many of these pelts.

Why does Ruth knit skins?

Here's her story:

"I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia. In my twenties I traveled overseas for two years, living in Amsterdam, Holland, visiting Thailand, Myanmar, most of Europe and fulfilled a lifelong desire to see the ancient art of Egypt. I returned home to Australia and studied for my BA in sculpture and printmaking at Phillip Institute of Technology.

In 1993 I was awarded the Anne & Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship, a generous sponsor in promoting overseas education of Australian visual art students. I began my Masters degree in sculpture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Upon graduation I obtained employment at the Wildlife Conservation Society, more commonly known as the Bronx Zoo. I was employed at the Bronx Zoo as an exhibit sculptor and fabricator for fourteen years, where my primary goal was to replicate artificial natural environments, offering enriched and educational arenas for animals and humans alike. Presently I teach drawing at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

I started knitting animal skins while I was working at the Bronx Zoo. I learnt so much about the animals there and immediately started incorporating them into my artwork. My workplace backed up to the snow leopard enclosures and I was really captivated by the beauty of these animals and struggled with ideas about how to represent them.
My mother and aunt taught me how to knit as a young girl and I was an obsessive and quite accomplished knitter up until I became a teenager. Segue to the present - I hadn't knitted much for years just baby clothes for new additions to the family, but on a trip to Australia a number of years ago I was bored and looking for something to do and I began knitting socks for my whole family, (complicated Estonian socks from Nancy Bush's books).
I took to knitting these socks at work and my boss was particularly fascinated by them. One day he gave me a job to repair a cast plastic Gabon viper and joked about the pattern of the snakes skin saying, "You should knit that!", it was one of those light bulb moments that just exploded, so I did knit that snake and that's really how it started. I looked around me at the animal collection and realized that there was a whole array of animals that could be interpreted into knitted textiles. In particular species of the cat family have at various times struggled to survive because the beauty and texture of their coats have long been coveted and this problem continues to plague species today alongside other issues of conservation. So I am very interested in the idea of replacing the real pelt with a knitted one. With a knitted pelt I can showcase the beauty, size and the violence that visits these animals when they are slain by stretching the knitted pelt on a frame of sticks - (this idea comes from a photo I saw in a book where a jaguar was killed and stretched out on some sticks lashed together to dry out the skin, this jaguar had been studied in the wild with a radio collar on. When the signal went dead the scientist quickly found out what had happened to his study animal when he went back to the village where he was staying.) So I am very interested in the idea of replacing the real pelt with a knitted one and having a dialogue about conservation in my artwork.

Ruth is about to begin a three month residency at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City where she will begin a series of knitted tiger pelts. Wish I could trot right over and have a look.


Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

That is AMAZING!!!! It's incredible what talent is out there.....

Knitting Out Loud said...

It is amazing to me where people take knitting these days.