Coming from a community where people routinely wrap brightly coloured crocheted cozies around tree trunks* and pom-pom bomb cyclone fences, I have a fairly high threshhold for craffiti.
Maybe it’s because there’s just not enough hours in the day, perhaps it’s the complete lack of the desire to inflict random knittings on perfectly good bicycle stands, but I just don’t see the point.
I was briefly charmed when a little stuffed toy dog complete with crocheted coat, bowl and lead appeared tied up outside the local library.
When I made a drop-off my own real dog would sit next to it like it was a friend and people would emerge cooing, “Oh, how adorable”.
But then a serial killer-in-the-making severed his ears and hung him from a railing, and this warm, fuzzy gesture turned into something just really damn depressing.
And I don’t think any real dog owner who saw it will ever feel quite the same way about the library again.
Of course craftivists do use soft, colourful yarn and home economics skills to make extremely powerful anti-war, anti-capitalist, environmental and social statements.
A group of international hobbyists created a huge knitted blanket of the Nike swoosh protesting the company’s use of sweat-shop labour.
Others like Danish artist Marianne Jorgenson marshalled thousands of crafters to create pink blankets for armoured tanks to protest against her country’s involvement in the Iraq war.
“The possibility of ‘knitting your opinions’ gives the project an aspect that I think is important,” she writes on her blog. “The common element in the project gives importance beyond words.
“For me, the tank is a symbol of stepping over other people’s borders. When it is covered in pink, it becomes completely unarmed and it loses its authority.”
Now I can’t knit, but I totally get that kind of yarn-bombing.
Then, on the last day of winter a very crafty type finally managed to elicit a response from me.
It happened when I was walking into the local supermarket just on dusk.
On the corner of the street outside there is a seat for weary shoppers.
In front of the seat across the pavement someone had written in chalk in gently looping cursive: “I really love life.”
A tub of giant coloured chalks sat on the seat. It was too much of an invitation.
“Me too” I wrote swiftly lest some one be tempted take the 40-something woman apparently defacing the pavement to task.
I walked away grinning inside and out, though as days go this one – up until that point – had been nothing much to smile about.
Within 48 hours the pavement was a swirl of lovehearts, names, flowers, stars which flowed around the corner.
And, instead of being stolen, the chalks had been worn to stubs.
To give a stranger a smile is an extraordinary gift.
Melbourne artist Sayraphim Lothian specialises in doing just this through her Guerilla Kindness project.
By placing “sneaky, beautiful little works of art out as gifts for people who spot them” she aims to “inject little bubbles of joy” into the lives of passing strangers.
You know, I’m starting to think all that bicycle stand really needs to make it work is a great big bow.
* Image pinched from: http://yarnninjas.blogspot.com.au/