How to knit an elephant

Knitting is health-promoting. This [usually woman’s] craft is wonderfully rhythmic (unless you’re doing a complicated pattern) which, along with the repetitive nature of the action, promotes the production of serotonin which may positively affect mood. It visually satisfies the human penchant for symmetry and pattern. It sends positive neural feedback according to touch and pressure receptors, which combines with the notional satisfaction of the creation of an object. It is a perfect combination: consciously affirmed skill, and ongoing challenge. It is immersive mindfulness.

Over the last two years, I’ve been working with a group of craft-workers to knit a giant placenta as a monument to women and their hidden work to create community. In this current social climate, economics tends to dominate dialogue. Craft, and the [usually] women that create it, tends not to feature in major discussions about community. Yet crafting objects for use by the community has a long history. As an example, the Irish fisherfolk wore occupational health and safety conscious work-wear as a direct result of women’s work.

It is hard to imagine the event that brought these Irish women together to line up with their needles, wool, and knitting bags. Some women are aware of the camera and smile at their audience; others are deep in their stitches and smile nonetheless. The photo describes only a fraction of their lives but hints at the other stories they share.

In terms of a community artwork, the #placentaproject has brought together a goal-oriented group. Some participants were previously unknown, some were old friends and colleagues. All the group members have stories to share. It is this togetherness that promotes social health, and rich, emotionally-invested connections.

Arts and Health Gippsland is now preparing sessions for groups, using craft and art-making for promoted health and enhanced connectedness.

Need to relax? Try knitting…

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