Freddie Robins on knitting

12.05.20. Internet. Lockdown special

The third ‘lockdown special’ of Material Matters features the radical knitter Freddie Robins.

The common perception of knitting is that it’s a gentle, mindful activity. A thing you can do quietly in front of the television to relax after a hard day. Well, Robins’ work is the antithesis of all that. It’s frequently dark and always provocative. Her subject matter encompasses death, loss, religion, depression and challenges the perceived hierarchy of the art and craft worlds. It is work meant for the gallery rather than to be worn at home and comes with titles such as Bad Mother and I’m so Bloody Sad. Kaffe Fassett she ain’t.

In this episode we discuss: the pivotal role her Godmother played in her childhood fascination with textiles; her loathing of conformity and the ‘danger of being ridden over by mediocrity’; her spell working in the fashion world; exploring the dark side through her work; having her pieces vandalised; and why knitting shouldn’t always be good for you. Not only that but we also chat about her appearance on Grand Designs with Kevin McCloud. So something for everybody, I think.

Find out more about Freddie Robins 

Bad Mother, 2015, was made of machine and hand-knitted wool. Top portrait: Freddie Robins with objects from the Crafts Council Collection, at her home. Image: Jamie Stoker.

Craft Kills, 2002, is a self-portrait based on the image of Saint Sebastian being martyred.

Freddie’s house is full of objects she has collected. It was featured in an episode of Grand Designs.

Knitted Homes of Crime, 2002, are the homes of female killers or the houses where they committed their crimes. All images courtesy of the artist.