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Nicky Barfoot

Nicky Barfoot
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Nicky Barfoot

I am a visual artist who combines knitting, a method of making often perceived as an amateur and female craft, with other artistic media such as drawing, painting, printing and photography.  My work questions conformity, gender and aesthetics.  It uses the traditional craft of knitting to feminise the masculine, blurring the boundaries between high and low art and placing itself between art and craft.

My graphic novel, the Call of Jill, is a light-hearted fusion of cartoon genres, inspired both by the Hanna Barbera cartoons of my childhood and more recent, darker animations such as Afro Samurai and Samurai Jack.  With a female lead and a unique visual format combining knitted characters and scenery with printing, drawing and photography, The Call of Jill provides a feminine perspective of the masculine world of graphic novels.

The Boys Knit Too series of knitted wall  hangings, inspired by artists such as Mark Newport and Theresa Honeywell, explores how we define masculinity.  

The 1980s was a time of decadence, big hair and even bigger knitwear!  The Glamour series of sweaters is an updated take on the often nasty picture that my Nanna stuck on our Christmas sweaters with more tasteful embroidery, applique' and "pop knitting".

My Background in Textiles

I was taught to knit and sew as a young child by mother and grandmother as a method of keeping an active child entertained when i t was too wet to play outside.  As I grew up I used these skills to express my identity on a teenage budget by modifying the patterns in the Woman's Weekly magazines saved for me by my next door neighbour and creating my own chunky knitting yarn from knotting bits of ripped up sheet.  My sister and her friends described me as "having my own unique style"!

After putting my skills to good use in my 20s, making bridesmaids dresses for my friends, I made my first move from garment production to Textile Art in 2009 when I won a national competition sponsored by "The Knitter" magazine to design a blanket square as part of the Macmillan Coffee Mornings campaign.  I went on to complete the City and Guilds course in Hand Knit Design and enrolled on the foundation degree in Stitched Textiles at Eastleigh College, graduating in 2012 with "Distinction".

Boys Knit Too Knit Club (2).jpeg               Call of Jill front page.jpeg                        Glamour Tank.jpeg