Much of the curated work recalled the largely anonymous knitting and sewing work that was done by women during the Great War and successive wars. On display were knitted wash cloths similar to those that were made and sent to the front-line soldiers; a pair of socks created by a Queanbeyan woman who had knitted them as a schoolgirl in 1915; an original hand-written “sock recipe” which was used by Dympha Clark to knit socks during the Second World War; and a pair of mittens that had been sent to Bombardier Martin Collins in 1915 on the Western Front.
The wash cloths were created by members of the PeaceKnits group which was formed in May 2013 in Queanbeyan, NSW. PeaceKnits, in conjunction with members of the Kiama Knitters Guild, also made a free-form knit and crochet blackout curtain in the design of a rose window. This beautiful, artisanal creation poignantly serves as a reminder of all the damage that was inflicted by aerial bombing raids in both World Wars. The curtain features free-form relief pieces that are fringed by a circle of red poppies for remembrance, overlaid by white poppies emblematic of peace. The words “Move From War to Peace” surround the flowers and the round window design brings to mind sacred mandalas or open oculi in the centre of domes covering cathedrals.
Set alongside the thought-provoking handcrafts, the exhibition also featured a selection of poems created by a range of contemporary poets. Just as the “peace knits” of the exhibition sought to provide comfort, solace, connection and meaning, these poems sought to address war but also to move beyond it in an effort to find sustainable peace.