By Jeremy Sollars
‘Get your yarnbomb on’ – that’s the catch-cry ahead of the 2017 Jumpers and Jazz in July festival in the Rose City.
By this time next week the Warwick CBD will be alive with colour and music as ‘J&J’ gets under way, now in its 14th year.
With the official start to the festival next Thursday 20 July, ‘yarnbombers’ – both local and from out of town – will be out in force next Wednesday, affixing their wild, whacky and wonderful textile adornments to the bare wintry trees across the CBD and other points around the region.
For those who may be new to town – or who’ve been living under a rock for the last 14 years – Jumpers and Jazz was the brainchild of the Warwick Art Gallery team back in 2004, with the original idea being to put “jumpers” on the Warwick CBD trees to keep them “warm”, accompanied by a program of jazz events, with both serving to bring a bit of colour and festivity to the otherwise chilly and at times dreary winter months.
Those two basic concepts remain integral to the festival, but since 2004 it has grown exponentially and now is a major tourist drawcard for Warwick and surrounds – at a time of year when the tourism sector is traditionally a little quieter – and the program of events in 2017 is bigger than ever.
Most tree jumper artists are still keeping their creations heavily under wraps until next Wednesday and Sue Pulley is no exception.
The owner of Just Because Gifts and Flowers on Palmerin Street has been yarnbombing the tree in front of her business premises for the last eight years of Jumpers and Jazz and has won many ‘highly commended’ accolades over the time.
Sue and her good friend and employee Barb Fogg – along with other staff members, family and friends – have been working on their 2017 entry in the ‘knitted and crocheted’ section for the last five months.
All the pair would give away on the subject of this year’s creation was the theme – entitled ‘School’s Out’.
“We like to keep it as a bit of surprise,” Sue laughed.
“Basically we start chucking ideas around straight after the festival each year for the next one – we Google and we get inspiration online and from other things we see.
“We like to be a bit out of the box and show our creativity.”
Contributors to this year’s Just Because tree jumper include Sue’s Darwin-based sister-in-law, who passed through Warwick not long ago and was given a good-sized allocation of wool which she worked on while travelling and posted back when she returned home.
For the record between 60 and 70 balls of yarn have gone into the 2017 Just Because J&J creation.
Just Because will hold a wearable art fashion parade and dinner next Wednesday 23 July.
Still time to lend a hand
Work is proceeding on the large ‘Travelling Ravellers’ installation for Jumpers and Jazz in July display in the foyer of the Warwick Art Gallery.
Free Times arts and events columnist Sue Keong said the gallery’s ‘Yarntopians’ are “sworn to secrecy regarding a special addition for this display”.
“It’s only a week before Jumpers and Jazz begins – if you have some spare time, call down to the gallery and volunteer to lend a hand stitching the display together and you will find out more,” Sue said.
“Yarntopian’ team co-ordinator and Warwick Art Gallery staff member Loretta Grayson is proud of how the team gets more motivated and inspired each year.
“Our ideas grow more ambitious with each festival,” Loretta said.
“This year the Yarntopians will be taking over the gallery’s foyer space with The Travelling Ravellers.
“We are also planning some colourful surprises in the gallery gardens that will brighten everyone’s day with their playfulness.”
The Yarntopians, an enthusiastic and creative group, have been working for the last nine months on their new projects. They are now very astute at making use of previous year’s projects to create something new every year and have a great collection of beautiful elements that they re-purpose for each festival.
As well as the gallery project, they have been invited to create a special yarnbombing installation for the verandah of the historic Criterion Hotel. The team has been using crochet and macrame techniques to create a special artwork that will enhance the architectural beauty of the building.
After meeting Redfern yarnbomber Queen Babs on a visit to Sydney last year, Loretta initiated another new project involving small hanging crocheted hearts, known as lovebombs that will be a delightful surprise for festival visitors.
“Lovebombs are made by yarnbombers worldwide as a random act of kindness designed to put smiles on the faces of those who find them”, Loretta explained.
“Our team has embraced the generous spirit of this project, and has made close to two thousand lovebombs to be given away during Jumpers and Jazz.”
For the full Jumpers and Jazz 2017 program visit www.jumpersandjazz.com