Berman Museum 2021

The Knitting Map and The Tempestry Project

Berman Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
June 11 – November 30, 2021

Mapping Climate Change: The Knitting Map and The Tempestry Project unites, for the first time, two innovative textile art projects that give visual and tangible presence to our warming world at a crucial moment of environmental precariousness. By translating temperature, precipitation, humidity, or windspeed data into stitch and colour, these vibrant works potently and poignantly reveal the centrality of weather to notions of identity and experiences of place, and thus “map” a range of encounters from environmental to phenomenological.

Drawing maps—cartography—is an ancient impulse. A practice of knowledge acquisition, documentation, or orientation, mapping marks or claims space; it is a human gesture. For the artist cartographers of The Knitting Map (2005) and The Tempestry Project (2017 – present), textile becomes the medium through which data is translated, but also inevitably interpreted through the personal calligraphy of makers’ stitches—some taut, others loose. The process of handknitting and the resultant textiles thus map the motions of makers’ hands, as much as they transmit data relating to climate and locale.

Like the natural world and our place in it, textile can be both vulnerable and resilient. Produced more than a decade apart, The Knitting Map and The Tempestry Project recount evolving stories of climate awareness. In conversation, The Knitting Map and The Tempestry Project integrate science and art, technology and handwork, and authorship and collaboration to visualize a developing public consciousness of environmental justice issues.

The Knitting Map understands weather as defining and integral to identity and lived experience. Its palette—lush greens and deep blues for periods of rainfall and creams and khakis for more arid stretches—visually chronicles a calendar year of Cork’s fluctuations in temperature, wind speed, and precipitation, and thus serves as a conceptual and artistic progenitor, of sorts, for The Tempestry Project. The Knitting Map is by Jools Gilson & Richard Povall.

Time lapse video of The Knitting Map installation at the Berman here.

Mapping Climate Change Panel Discussion here.

This exhibition was generously supported by The Coby Foundation and Culture Ireland.

(Text by Deborah Barkun, Creative Director of the Berman Museum of Art).