Art Knitting project at the National Botanic Garden of Wales

Art Knitting project at the National Botanic Garden of Wales


The art work on display at the Garden was created through collaborative workshops with three craft groups in the Upper Afan Valley. At Blaengwynfi, Croeserw and Glyncorrwg, members of three craft groups worked with the artist Jemma Sykes over a period of three weeks to make knitted and crochet work inspired by plants at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

Artist’s statement:

‘These raffia garlands are constructed from a collection of pieces resulting from the collaboration with women from the craft groups of the Upper Afan Valley. They are inspired by a visit to the gardens: their observations of details and shape have been translated and constructed through hand knit and crochet to create these floral forms. Raffia was chosen because of its organic quality provoking a harmony between the craft and the plants, the material and the matter are reminiscent of the corn dolly; a good luck charm for the future of the valley.’

This project was primarily funded by Gwanwyn. The Gwanwyn festival is a month long national festival held across Wales in May celebrating creativity in older age. The festival offers greater opportunities for greater participation by older people in the arts and is also an opportunity to highlight and promote the participation of older people in the arts throughout the year. Gwanwyn is run by Age Concern Cymru with support from a variety of organisations including the Welsh Assembly Government, the Arts Council of Wales and the BBC. The project was also supported by a Learning in Later Life Grant which is funded through the European Social Fund and administered by NIACE. A study visit to the National Botanic Garden by the craft groups and artist was made possible by Groundwork and the National Botanic Garden of Wales. Support was also given by the Ford of Britain Trust.

Information about the Artist:

Jemma Sykes studied Textile Design and Surface Decoration at Buckinghamshire University College, and gained a Master of Arts in Constructed Textiles specialising in knit, at the Royal College of Art. She has been awarded the Woolmark Trend Prediction,Autumn/ Winter 2003/4; the Worshipful Company of Framework Knitters Bursary 2003; Thames & Hudson and RCA Society Prize for Constructed Textiles 2003; TEXPRINT 2003, Prize for Knit awarded by Lola Coppini, Gruppo Linieapiu; and a Crafts Council Development Award 2004. She has worked extensively in the fashion industry including for Givenchy, Biba, Julien Macdonald, Christian Dior and Lanvin, and also tutors at the RCA, Central St Martins, and Buckinghamshire University College.