Kimberley Cookey-Gam

August 17, 2021

We met Kimberley through Instagram over a year ago, during this time we have shared countless emails, zoom calls, poetry podcasts, and the step by step development of this special capsule. We finally came together in Barcelona to put this dream together a couple of weeks ago. We hope you enjoy these special pieces as much as we treasured the whole process of creating them together.

How would you define your work? And where did you learn to crochet? What goes through your head when you are working? Is it relaxing?

My practice fuses crochet with daily elements. Through using a combination of hard and soft materials, I attempt to put intention into cracks, gaps and disregarded spaces. 

I taught myself to crochet back in 2014/15 through reading and lots of YoutTube tutorials. I was desperate to make myself a bikini when I was a teenager as I could not afford to buy one, which led me to discover crochet. I loved the ability to create 3D as well as 2D objects and I have never stopped using this method since. I'm drawn to the notion that you have to carve out the time to create something with crochet, as there is no machine for it. It has not been created. I can’t rely on anything apart from my own two hands. The process of crochet can be relaxing at times. I find it easier to manage when creating something like the freeform method, as I don’t have to follow a set pattern and I can just let my hands go in whichever direction, and treat the process as an instinctual one.

What is the most special piece you have made?

That’s tricky. Each one holds such a special element within them as I have touched and moulded every inch of every piece. But one that stands out to me is a piece that I made when thinking of my grandmother. It is a method called graphghan which is a process of creating an image with crochet. I made the piece based on photographs that were taken on a trip to Southern Nigeria in 2017. A bittersweet event that ignited nostalgia for growing up in Nigeria, whilst simultaneously grieving over the burial of my grandmother. I remember the shared experience of hand washing clothes with my grandmama when I was a child - and the piercing heat from the sun that would dry them almost instantly. My mother remembers her mother telling her to ‘je gbasa akwa na-anwu.’ which translates to ‘go and dry the clothes in the sun’ in Igbo.

What tools do you use?

I use my hands, hooks, found objects, and I hope to expand my use of materials in my 2nd year of my Masters.

Who or what is an important artistic reference for your work?

Hm, it changes quite often actually. It depends on the moment or my mood. I realised I don’t have one specific person or thing as a reference, but rather a mixture, whether that comes from a verse in a song, a line from an interview, poetry, an exhibition, an item of clothing, a flaw etc. that I absorb, which eventually makes its way into what I want to create.

Also, I adore Agnes Martin. I look to her for guidance on very heavy intention and simplicity.

What was the technical process throughout this particular project?

I wanted the process to remain instinctual and I was particularly drawn to the sculptural aspect of the items. I did not follow a pattern, and the size of each I hoped would be able to adapt to various body shapes. So adding the ties to each piece hopefully gives room for this to manifest.

There was a fair bit of trial and error at the start of making the pieces. For instance, after making one, I would realise that the yarn was too thin or too stiff and have to unravel hours of crocheting and start over again. 

Sourcing second hand and vintage yarn is important to me because usually that specific texture and colour of the yarn may be a one off. The light brown yarn I used to create Cookey I, was kept in storage by someone for 30 years before they decided to sell it.

Do you have a dream project or where do you see yourself in the future?

To create sculpturally inspired clothing. A collection that can be worn by almost all body shapes and sizes. To have these pieces be easily adaptable and wearable. To dress up or down. I have one of my freeform pieces that I hang on the wall, just because I admire it so much. But I can also simply pick it up and wear it when I want to. And I really favour that transition. I think that it can be a reflection of how we shapeshift and transform to the different stages in life.

I see myself developing and growing a new collaborative project that that my friend Alix and myself have birthed recently. A place where we honour and experiment with crochet, music, animation, clothing, video, photography, sculpture, etc. I see this slowly blossoming into a project where we can invite the ideas, thoughts and processes of other creatives, as well as expand and build upon our own passions.

See the work process and final pieces developed for this project

See the final pieces here