It’s the summer in Melbourne, so this tree on Swanston Street isn’t wearing a jumper because it’s cold (although let’s be fair, Melbourne summers can have their chilly moments). In fact, all of the trees that surround City Square on Swanston Street are covered in brightly colored yarn because they’ve been ‘yarn bombed’ by a local yarn bombing group called Yarn Corner.
Sometimes called ‘graffiti knitting’ or ‘yarn storming,’ this form of street art has been threading its way around the world since 2005. Unsurprisingly, yarn bombing rapidly took off when it hit Melbourne’s rich and diverse street art scene, and for some years across the city and suburbs, the sight of a lamp-post or bicycle rack covered in yarn has not been usual.
‘Yarn bombers’ create knitted panels at home and then stitch their work onto street signs, bicycle racks, trees, or indeed anything that doesn’t move. Like a lot of street art, the works appear quickly and often overnight. However, unlike most other kinds of street art, city councils are generally in support of this form of urban art, and even encourage yarn bombing in a lot of cases.
Magda Sayeg, a textile artist from Austin, Texas, pioneered the yarn bombing movement when she decided to brighten up the otherwise drab concrete and metal surroundings around her workplace. Since then she’s travelled the world covering various things in yarn including a London Bus, a VW camper van (of course!), pedicabs in Penang, goldfish in Hong Kong, and much more.
Here in Melbourne, ‘Yarn Corner‘ the group that yarn bombed the trees at City Square, is one of the largest yarn bombing groups in the world, with nearly 1,000 local and international members. It was formed out of the fortnightly “stitch and bitch” meetings set up by prominent Melbourne fibre artist Bali of Twilight Taggers.
The yarn-bombed trees at City Square have proved to be a big hit with locals and tourists alike with thousands of pictures of the trees floating around the internet and across social media. The group is set to return to City Square on the 13th/14th of February to cover the ten remaining ‘naked’ trees.