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Visit People's Park Plinth

17 May - 15 June 2008

Open Source Embroidery: Craft and Code


17 May - 15 June 2008

Facilitated by Ele Carpenter.

This exhibition explores the connections between the collaborative characteristics of needlework, craft and Open Source software. This project has brought together embroiderers, patchworkers, knitters, artists and computer programmers to share their practice and make new work.

Review by Jenna Ng of Critical Code Studies
Images of the exhibition
Events at HTTP

The centre-piece of the exhibition at HTTP Gallery is the HTML Patchwork developed in response to the popularity of quilting in Sheffield, the result of a participatory project initiated by Ele Carpenter in partnership with Access Space. The patchwork is built on open principles of collective production and skill-share, where each person contributes a part to the whole. The final work is a collectively stitched patchwork quilt of HTML web-safe colours with embroidered codes and a wiki website, where the makers of each patch identify themselves and write about their sewing process. Each patch is personalised by the sewer, often including embroidered web addresses.

Telinit Ø: time for bed, Lisa Wallbank, 2007.Knitted Blog (detail), Suzanne Hardy, 2006.
Open Source Embroidery Gallery Opening, From left to Right: HTML Patchwork Suzanne Hardy, Knit-a-Blog.

In an interview with Jess Lacetti, Ele Carpenter said about the project: “The same arguments about Open Source vs Free Software can be applied to embroidery. The needlework crafts also have to negotiate the principles of ‘freedom’ to create, modify and distribute within capitalism’s cultural and economic constraints. The Open Source Embroidery project simply attempts to provide a social and practical way of discussing the issues and trying out the practice. Free Software, Open Source, amateur and professional embroiderers and programmers are welcome to contribute to the project.”

Hexart GDlib Script Error, digital print on canvas, James Wallbank, 2007. Weaving network cable in progress, Paul Grimmer, 2007.
Open Source Embroidery Gallery Opening. Eli Carpenter points to collaborative artwork in the middle of the image, and Furthefield Co-curator Ruth Catlow (far right) looks on as visitors discuss the various works.

Ele Carpenter developed the project while working as an artist in residence at Access Space in Sheffield and Isis Arts in Newcastle upon Tyne. Access Space is an open-access media lab using recycled computers and open-source software. Anyone can drop in and use the lab to develop their creative projects.

The exhibition at HTTP Gallery in Harringay, North London, includes works by 11 artists and makers alongside the collectively made HTML Patchwork quilt and wiki. Other works in the exhibition include Susanne Hardy’s Knit-a-Blog, a collective knitting project made by contributors from across the UK and USA, Iain Clarke’s PHP Embroidery, which explores the open source PHP programming language as a form of self-generating weaving, as well as artworks by Paul Grimmer, Tricia Grindrod, Jake Harries & Keith o’Faoláin, John Keenan, Trevor Pitt, Clare Ruddock, James Wallbank, and Lisa Wallbank.

People at Access Space have created the HTML Patchwork. Art through Textiles, The Patchwork Garden, The Fat Quarters, Stocksbridge Knit n Chat, Totley Quilters, Isis Arts, and the Banff New Media Institute at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada.

Events at HTTP

Your chance to meet Ele Carpenter, the curator and some other exhibiting artists to enjoy a few drinks and conversations about the exhibition.

Open Knitting and Embroidery evenings
Dates and times TBC

Bring your knits, your embroidery and your friends for tea, biscuits and conversation amongst the artworks.

These events are open to the public and have free entrance; however, advanced booking is necessary.

HTTP Gallery
Unit A2, Arena Design Centre
71 Ashfield Road
London N4 1LD

Further info:
Access Space
Arts Council England