Guest blog by Caroline Murray
Since their last guest blog, the knitters of Knitting the Air have been busy! Earlier this year in May, Knitting the Air shared their ambitious plans to knit air quality data from two Breathe London sensors in Poplar, Tower Hamlets, for a whole year. It all started with a question: how can we help people engage with and make sense of air pollution data which can at times feel abstract? By presenting the data in a unique, eye-catching and tactile way, Knitting the Air aims to help people understand the data, relate it to their everyday lives and open up conversations.
Work in Progress Exhibition
Since then, an incredible 70+ knitters across east London have joined Knitting the Air, contributing their time, skill and needles to the project. Collectively they’ve done a phenomenal amount of knitting since starting. So much that in September they staged their first public exhibition, taking over Making Space Gallery in Aberfeldy, Poplar and filling it with their knitted progress.
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This included three months’ worth of completed knitted data for each node, covering March, April and May this year, representing a quarter of the final piece. Also included was their work in progress, highlighting how each individual knitter's contribution is coming together to form the final piece.
Sparking curiosity and conversation
Over 250 people ventured out to visit the exhibition over the course of a weekend, including a packed opening night, bringing together an eclectic mix of local residents, knitters, local GPs, Breathe London groups, artists, air quality scientists and public health professionals. They hosted a very special visit from the Culloden Primary School student council, who came to learn about air pollution, share their reflections and then presented the project back to their peers at a full school assembly.
Well, even more knitting! The exhibition has been such a boost to the knitters and has inspired even more to come forward and take part. They’ll also start turning their sights to how to display the work as it grows to keep the conversations going and how to weave in people’s experiences and stories of air pollution. By making the data more relatable to people’s everyday lives, Knitting the Air hopes that this will provide a powerful place from which to create change.
Follow their journey on instagram at Knitting the Air. For more information about the project, contact Caroline Murray on email@example.com. Knitting the Air is part of Poplar Green Futures, a community-led strategy and action plan for a healthier, more sustainable Poplar.
What next in Brixton?
Friday 13th was an auspicious day for the installation of our node. Since we got involved in the project our aim has always been to measure the quality of the air that we and our neighbours breathe and start a discussion with our community. On Friday, Sacha, along with Tim from Lambeth Council Parks department, bolted the monitor onto a lamppost in the St Matthew’s Churchyard in Brixton, moments from Windrush Square. And with the new position brings new opportunities to engage a wider audience.
The node is alive and well, and is generating data - you can view this on the Breathe London website. Once we get some more data we’ll start analysing and seeing if we can spot any trends.
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