Sheep take over London’s Royal Academy of Arts

Town goes country for the UK’s Wool Week celebrations


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Drawing on the artistic and the artisan, the Campaign for Wool set about highlighting the heritage and beauty of fleece with a series of events and activities for Wool Week from October 14 to 20.



As well as activities demonstrating the craftsmanship behind the fibre, Wool Week used art and design to educate and inspire. To coincide with The Royal Academy of Arts exhibition 'Australia', the largest collection of Australian art ever seen outside Australia, a flock of Bowmont Merino sheep made a special appearance in the Academy's courtyard, giving visitors the chance to see and learn about the fleece first hand.

Further north, students from the Leeds College of Art created a series of free wool installations in the city's Victoria Quarter, in collaboration with fabric company SIL Holdings - participating students competed for a work placement with the textile weaver.

Looking beyond the wardrobe, the OneWool initiative looks to interiors and ways in which wool can be brought into the home, highlighting a variety of products from carpets and rugs to fabrics and furnishings. A room design competition on social network Pinterest, in association with Homes & Gardens magazine, invited talented types to work with wool and pit their concepts in one of three categories - professional, student or amateur.

With thousands of spectators getting involved in this year's program, plans are already underway for an expanded Wool Week schedule for 2014.



Following a successful inaugural outing in 2012, Wool School returned for a second year with an even bigger roster of retailers on board. A fashion and education initiative, Wool School gives design students from a dozen of the UK's leading universities the chance to see their creations sold in one of the country's top fashion stores. Thirteen retailers, including Topshop, Marks & Spencer, and Pringle of Scotland each chose a wool jumper from the submissions to go into production for sale during Wool Week, with five per cent of all sales going back to fashion education programs.

The theme for the competition 'knitwear traditions of the British Isles' attracted thousands of entries from hopefuls around the United Kingdom. This year, as well as getting their wares stocked in a big-name store, the winning designers were also granted an audience with Campaign For Wool Patron HRH The Prince of Wales at his London residence, Clarence House.

Members of the public could also try their hand at making a woolly creation with Knit Nation, in collaboration with department store John Lewis. Designing bespoke patterns especially for the occasion, knitwear specialists held workshops in the London and Edinburgh stores showcasing fashion-forward knitting and wool craft techniques. Throughout Wool Week, the windows of the Oxford Street store in London gradually transformed as knitters stitched colourful patterns over an all white room as part of a live installation.

Also celebrating the craft of knitting, Picknit parties popped up across the country, encouraging friends, family and complete strangers to grab a rug, picnic and knitting needles for a social knit-off at cafés, parks, schools and living rooms everywhere.

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