With final preparations in full swing for Unravel 2020, the Riverside Café Gallery is looking forward to welcoming Max Alexander with her exhibition Knitted Moths of the World in collaboration with the yarn festival. After exhibiting her moths across the UK from London to Shetland, Max brings them to the Maltings where they are on display throughout February. Before the exhibition was installed, we caught up with Max to find out a bit more about her and her knitting practice.
What are you working on at the moment and where do you find ideas for your work?
I’m currently working on knitting as many different moths as I can, I started in 2014 and can’t seem to stop. Nature is always a great inspiration. I’ve knitted a few sea creatures and monsters in the past. I can also see a lot of potential for knitting projects inspired by other realms of the insect world.
What medium do you use in your practice and why?
I predominantly use Shetland Wool, mainly because it comes in a huge variety of colours so it’s not too hard to find a perfect match. I also love the fuzzy crunch of 100% wool, it seems to lend itself perfectly to replicating the patterns and shapes of moths.
What motivates you to make work, who do you believe has influenced your career and inspired you to start?
I love the sense of achievement when I complete a piece that is particularly complex. Having a slow process means it’s hard to enjoy every minute but it’s always worth it in the end. My mum gave me my first pair of knitting needles and some yarn for my 20th birthday in 2005. I guess that was pretty influential as I’ve been employed working with wool in various ways since 2009.
If you could name one, what is your favourite piece of work you have created, and why?
My favourite is almost always my most recent piece. In this case that’s the Death’s Head Hawk Moth. I get asked to make this moth quite regularly, probably because it was the poster for the film Silence of the Lambs. I really wanted to make sure I was good enough at moth knitting before I attempted it as it’s so iconic, I’m really pleased with how it came out.
If you can name one, what is your proudest achievement?
I designed a set of four small moths for Anthropologie in 2018. It was pretty special to see my work in a high street shop. I loved that it made my work accessible to a lot more people as there’s no way I could make that many by hand. The fact that they sold out was the icing on the cake.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
2.25mm knitting needles. It’s amazing what you can do with a couple of pointy sticks.
Where is your favourite place to see art?
I recently visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the combination of art and countryside was pretty spectacular.