Knitting the Air exhibition in Poplar extended after a packed opening weekend

Community knitters are raising awareness of Poplar air pollution, with their Knitting the Air exhibition extended after a packed opening weekend.

More than 250 people came to last weekend’s exhibition at Making Space in Aberfeldy Street marking six months of the Knitting the Air project visualising Poplar air pollution.

The Making Space gallery in Aberfeldy Street, Poplar, held the exhibition. Making Space is a small location that holds exhibitions, workshops, and events.

The exhibition opened on Thursday 28 September and continued through the weekend until October 1. The popularity of last weekend has led to its extension. The organisers have arranged a series of artist talks for the next two weeks. Attendees can view the exhibition and listen to a talk about the work.

Across the weekend over 250 people attended the exhibition including local residents, knitters, doctors, artists, and public health professionals.

The exhibition showcased four months of the knitters’ completed work and their uncompleted knitting. There was also a video from a local GP on the dangers of air pollution.

It also gave space for attendees to share their thoughts on the project and air pollution.

The plan is to knit one year of air quality data, from March 2023 to March 2024. Two air quality monitoring sensors gather the data. One at Dee Street opposite Culloden School and the other on the A12/Abbott Road junction.

Measurements show the level of the harmful gas Nitrogen Dioxide (N02) and of ultra-fine dust known as Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5).

Every day, knitters make a square for the air quality of each pollutant at both locations. They colour-code the data, with darker colours indicating worse air quality.

The aim of the project is to create a piece of art that visualises the hard-to-see dangers of air pollution. Viewers are quickly and easily able to see how good – or bad – air quality is.

Organisers and knitters hope that presenting the data in a highly visual and tactile way can build understanding, and knowledge and spark conversation about solutions.

Fran Jefcoate, a local participant in the project, expressed it’s ‘a fantastic way to visualise air pollution, I’ve been involved in monitoring air quality in Poplar for many years and I’m excited how this project can help raise awareness.’

Local volunteers meet monthly to knit. All are welcome to come even complete beginners. So far around 70 local knitters from Poplar and the East End are taking part.

After a full years work knitters will have completed 1460 squares.

The Project Lead Caroline Murray from Poplar HARCA said ‘We had lots of great feedback from the exhibition – including how the project is making air pollution data tangible and accessible, helping people understand something that previously they didn’t know much about.’

Project Lead Caroline Murray at the exhibition. Photo Credit Rehan Jamil

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