Sayraphim Lothian is a “public artist and investigator of playful engagement & experiments in guerrilla kindness” from Melbourne, Australia. She has a new artist in residency project that is very interesting!
“It’s called Craffiti and it’s soft sculpture and other crafted works based on some of Melbourne’s amazing street art scene. The crafts range from knitting to cross stitch, hand quilting to soft sculpture and embroidery. Alongside each work is a photo of the original street art piece and most of the artists represented have works of their own in the exhibition as well.
“I look at sewing as solving puzzles, how am I going to make this the shape I want, what craft will I use, what materials will give me the surface I’m looking for, and so using street art for the inspiration offered me a whole new set of challenges. Will I make this 3d or 2d? What kind of craft will suit the original work the best? And, in one case, how the hell am I going to make this guy stand on his own without wire or bring hung up?
“Using other people’s artwork as a starting point for your own is also a great responsibility. With any work you make, you want to make it as best as you can, but when using someone else’s work as a template, you have an added responsibility to be true to their vision as well as your own. You don’t want to present a work they’re going to hate!
I love the idea of artists in residence, those schemes that museums, historic houses, libraries and other institutions have where artists are invited in to soak up the collections, the buildings, the histories and the stories and emerge with new artworks based on their experiences. Artists can offer the public a new way to look at an item, a new way to think about a building, a new way to experience a history. Artists can take the familiar and re-present it in a new light, using different materials to encourage us to really look at something we thought we knew, and present to us new thoughts, ideas and experiences we haven’t had before.
In a way, Craffiti is exactly this, an artist residency down the alleyways of Melbourne, bringing back ideas and forms found under eaves, on walls and fences, attached to poles and hidden under bridges. Remaking these forms in new materials to present them to the audience in a new light.
When I was first approaching the street artists, I was a little aware that craft can be seen as a bit daggy in the public eye and that some of these artists have been painting the streets for decades. In particular one artist who I have been in awe of since I discovered his work over 10 years ago, I was a bit nervous to email him and say “Umm, I’d like to quilt your tag please…” but they were all amazingly supportive and really keen to see their work in new ways.
“I’m a public artist, who’s main body of work is in Guerrilla Kindness. It’s where I made small, handcrafted works to place out in the streets for people to find and take home, to make their day a little brighter. So with Craffiti I really wanted to have a Guerrilla Kindness aspect to it, as well as take it out to the streets. I was very aware that I was bringing street art into a nice, clean gallery space so I wanted to ensure that some of Craffiti made it’s way back out onto the streets. So I knitted around 20 spray cans (which rattle, thanks to a film canister and wooden bead inside) and they’ve been sent off to friends around the world who’ll be dropping them in their cities. Already spray cans have gone out in Perth (AUS) and Durham, NC (USA), they’ll also be appearing on streets in London (courtesy of Deadly Knitshade), Berlin, New York, Boston, Stockholm, Brisbane (AUS) and of course Melbourne! Each can has “Craffiti” and “@sayraphim” so that people can check in if they’d like to, but they don’t have too. It’s an obligation free gift, from us to whoever finds them.
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