Nicky Barfoot (b. 1969)
My mum taught me to knit and from an early age I discovered the therapeutic and meditative pleasure associated with this craft. Hundreds of sweaters, hats, scarves and gloves later my creative journey really began in 2009 when I won first prize in a national competition sponsored by “The Knitter” magazine to design a blanket square for the MacMillan Coffee Mornings campaign. This introduced me to knitting’s potential as an art form and inspired me to explore further.
My art practice mixes stitch with more traditional fine art methods, techniques and concepts. Taking inspiration from Pop Culture in general and the art of Keith Haring and William Wegman, the illustrations of Rupert Fawcett, and the writings of Terry Pratchett in particular, my work blurs the boundaries between high and low art and places itself between the definitions of Art and Craft. A common theme running through my practice is humour and if I can raise a smile, my work is done.
I have a strong interest in the human body stemming from my alter ego as a movement specialist and rehabilitator. As an artist this fascination has been extended into the realms of aesthetics through my hand knitted Life “Paintings” where an accessible craft often considered amateur, female and low skill has been combined with the artistic respectability and exclusivity of the Life Room. The result is the knitted nude and the irony of depicting the naked human form in the materials more commonly used to hide and protect it. In 2013 these knitted paintings were awarded Silver in the UK Hand Knitting Association Knitted Textile Awards.
With my knitted dog heads I have explored how the viewer responds to knitted fabric in a three dimensional form and investigated the fine line between sculpture and toy. This work combines the comfort and familiarity of Woman’s Best Friend with the sculptural potential and inherent sense of humour of knitted fabric. The result is a playful take on the intriguing and somewhat macabre art of stuffing, mounting and displaying dead animals. These 3D portraits of furry family members were awarded Gold at the 2014 Knitted Textile Awards.
Influenced by a childhood in the Tom and Jerry era, in my hand stitched and woven doodles I explore identity and illustrate internal dialogues and social interactions using the unaffected simplicity of my four legged muses who are incapable of the often painful self awareness, awkwardness and embarrassment which can plague human interaction and consciousness.
I have a City and Guilds (Level 3) in Hand Knit Textiles, a Foundation Degree in Stitched Textiles and a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. My work has been exhibited at the Knitting and Stitching Shows in London and Harrogate, Southampton City Art Gallery, Mottisfont Abbey, Rum’s Eg Gallery in Romsey and the Oxmarket Gallery in Chichester. I have also been featured in a number of National knitting magazines including “Knitting”, “Fabulous Knits” and “Knit Today”.
Education and Art Training
Foundation Diploma in Art and Design, West Dean College, 2014
Foundation Degree in Stitched Textiles (graduated with Distinction), Winchester University, 2012
City and Guilds (Level 3) in Hand Knit Textiles, 2011
Selected Group Exhibitions
2016 A Sporting Life, Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton
2016 Fabulous, The Oxmarket, Chichester
2015 Knit and Stitch Show, Harrogate
2015 Awakening, The Oxmarket, Chichester
2014 Knitted Textile Awards, Knit and Stitch Show, London & Harrogate
2014 Silvery Threads, The Hostry, Norwich Cathedral, Norwich
2014 Out of the Blue, Rum’s Eg Gallery, Romsey
2013 Knitted Textile Awards, Knit and Stitch Show, London & Harrogate
2013 Wild and Woolly, Rum’s Eg Gallery, Romsey
2013 Moving On, Hangar Farm Arts Centre, Totton
2013 ICHF, NEC, Birmingham
2012 Embroiderer’s Guild Graduate Showcase, Knit and Stitch Show London
Kennedy, Emma: “Knitted Textile Awards 2014”, Knitting, issue 139, March 2015, p73
Assenti, Sarah: “No place like home”, Fabulous Knits, Spring/Summer 2014 issue, p40-41
Last Word interview: “Nicky Barfoot”, Knit Today, issue 96, March 2014, p98
Kennedy, Emma: “Knitted Textile Awards 2013”, Knitting, issue 126, p71-74
“Members Feature”, Rowan e Newsletter, December 2013, p8-9
Yarnwise, issue 62, Jul/Aug 2013, p6-10 and p64-67
Yarnwise, issue 58, March 2013, p70-74
Embroiderer’s Guild Contact Magazine, issue 33, 2013, p25
Yarnwise, issue 56, January 2013, p42-46
Yarnwise, issue 55, December 2012, p29-33
Barker, Helen: “Knitting up an Art Form”, Yarnwise, issue 55, December 2012, p22-27
“Members Feature”, Rowan e Newsletter, November 2012, p12-13
2014, Gold, UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards (Open Category)
2013, Silver, UKHKA Knitted Textile Awards (Open Category)
2012, 2nd, Rowan Design Competition