Scottish fiber artist Jo Hamilton is pushing the boundaries of crochet with her subversive “crochet paintings.” Ranging in subject from strikingly colorful portraits to painstakingly stitched cityscapes made with recycled yarn, her nuanced textile pieces play with color, line, and texture, challenging our traditional perceptions of crochet as an art form. Hamilton is a pioneer in the field of figurative crochet art. She uses her work to address the complex issues facing society today, with a particular focus on the looming. Climate crisis. In fact, the artist’s most recent body of work, which was on display this past November, critically engages with humankind’s fraught relationship with the environmentThe devastating impact it has on our planet.
“Transitory Trespass deals with my feelings about how the human race interacts with the natural world, simultaneously idealizing and destroying it with too much that is man-made,” Hamilton tells My Modern Met. “In my concern (and slight obsession) about the plastic pollution climate crisis, I also began upcycling as much of my own household’s plastic waste as possible into ‘plarn’ to use for my work.”
PlarnThis plastic yarn is made from discarded plastic such as grocery bags and other common plastic waste products. Hamilton makes her own by cutting the handles and bottoms off of plastic bags and afterward cutting them into loops that are then knotted together to make two-ply strands of “thread.” And she’s used everything from frozen food bags to toilet paperPackaging was used to make her crochet masterpieces. The artist made a commitment years ago to stop purchasing new yarn due to the environmental pollution and negative effects it has on the environment. Instead, she uses only her homemade plarn as well as any regular yarn that can be found secondhand.
This adds an additional dimension to her work. She is not content with merely commenting on these issues, but becomes a part of the solution. However, Hamilton knows that there’s still much more to be done. “Although I feel slightly better to be keeping some plastic waste out of the landfill and the oceans, I do think the onus of the plastics crisis should fall on manufacturers, corporations, and here in the U.S., the federal government,” the artist explains.
One can only imagine the time and effort required to create her own plarn, as well as the complexity of each piece. Hamilton’s very first crocheted artwork, I Crochet PortlandThis took her more than two decades to complete. She also completed her first series crocheted portraits. Each stitch serves a larger purpose, which is to encourage people to think about and reevaluate how their everyday lives and habits impact the world around them.
“I hope that the subjects and the materials might help us reconsider our relationship to both the manmade and the natural world, and that we are able to pull back from the fast-approaching tipping point where the manmade throwaway stuff of planned obsolescence will extinguish the natural world, and us for good,” Hamilton says. “I hope that my own very slow way of working, in opposition to the breakneck pace of modern life, might encourage us to slow down, appreciate what we have, and alleviate the hunger for more stuff.”
Scroll down to see images of Hamilton’s stunning crochet artworks. Her work will again be on display at Timeless Textiles Gallery in Australia in October 2022. Keep an eye out on the artist’s website for new work. Instagram. And you can even commission your own piece by visiting the artist’s Website.
Jo Hamilton, a Scottish fiber artist creates intricate crochet art that addresses social issues such as climate change.
Each piece is made with recycled yarn that has been secondhand or repurposed from plastic.
Hamilton’s intricate crochet art is a great example of how to use traditional craft as an artistic medium.
My Modern Met granted permission for Jo Hamilton to use photos.