For the last fifteen years, knitting has been my primary sculptural and pictorial medium. After the tragic death of my brother in 2001, my mother sat beside me and taught me to knit. In that moment, I understood knitting to be a powerful personal, political, poetic and narrative tool.
My knitted art works have always been autobiographical. Early works included knitted sculptures of my father as a policeman, and a giant boundary hedge that spells LOVE. Through these time intensive works which took up to a year to create, I explored my childhood experiences and memories of gender and family. In later elaborate knitted sculptural works, I reinterpreted mythical and historical representations of women to reflect my own experiences of familial loss, sexual awakening, and my desire to be a mother. I then spent many years exploring the evocative and connective character of skin and its relevance to expressions of female embodiment and subjectivity. Recently, I have also undertaken a range of socially engaged projects. For my KNIT HOPE, KNIT SAFE and FURIES projects, I worked with diverse groups of women to create knitted banners and photographic images that challenge the ongoing issue of violence against women.
The Feminist Fan series is my first foray into knitted pictorial works. It began with a reverence for the ways women activist groups such as Pussy Riot and Femen were taking over public or institutional spaces and challenging patriarchal structures. These works led naturally back in time to early feminist performance works in which the body, textiles and forms of adornment were used to challenge stereotypes of gender, sexuality and experience.
Each picture starts with a photograph which is gridded up, and then hand knitted stitch by stitch. One knitted portrait constitutes about 10,000 stitches and more than sixty hours of work. It is a labour of love. When completed, I share it on social media. The ensuing discussion and sharing of these pictures reflects my feminist agenda to keep the work of women artists, so often overlooked, alive and proliferating in new and unexpected ways. Like all my other works, the Feminist Fan series is autobiographical. Although this body of work acknowledges the global influence of feminist art, it is also a genealogy of my influences. It is a family tree that maps my intimate alliances and crafts a series of visible connections between artists and across time and cultures.
Kate Just was born in Connecticut, USA in 1974, and migrated to Melbourne, Australia in 1996 where she currently lives and works. Just holds a Doctor of Philosophy (Sculpture) from Monash University, a Master of Arts from RMIT University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) from the Victorian College of the Arts, where she has been a Lecturer in Art for the last ten years. Just has exhibited extensively in solo and group exhibitions across Australia including at Gertrude Contemporary, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Contemporary Art Space of Tasmania, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, and the National Gallery of Australia. Internationally, Just has exhibited her work at Titanik Galleria in Finland, Auckland Art Fair, AC Institute New York, the Factory at Kunsthalle Krems in Austria and Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo, Japan. Just has been awarded international residencies in Barcelona, Tokyo, Krems and New Delhi. She was the winner of the 2007 Siemens Travel Award, the 2012 British Council Realise Your Dream Award, the 2013 Rupert Bunny Visual Arts Fellowship and the 2015 Wangaratta Contemporary Textile Award.