'Crochetdermist' will spend four months making 8ft polar bear to raise awareness for arctic animals' plight
PUBLISHED: 12:31 10 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:49 10 March 2019
From lions to princes, bears and even a gorilla with a face like Boris Johnson, the crocheted works of artist Shauna Richardson are a marvel. STUART ANDERSON got an insight into her works.
It started with a bear.
Shauna Richardson took eight months to crochet the life-sized brown bear more than 10 years ago, and only sold it before moving to Overstrand last summer.
Mrs Richardson said: “It was exhibited all over the world, and although very well-travelled, the bear always returned home where it dominated the living room. Now that I am settled, the house feels strange without a bear.”
Dubbing the process Crochetdermy, she went onto make a menagerie including deer, bull’s heads, boar, donkeys, monkeys and more.
But she’s returning to a familiar subject for her latest project - a polar bear.
She said: “A polar bear is a quite a different beast and an altogether new challenge.
“The finished piece should stand around 7ft-8ft. Using a 3mm hook and 5kg of mohair yarn I expect it to take around four months to complete.
“Although not yet much more than an abstract heap of wool, I am already using the piece via social media to draw attention to International Polar Bear Day, February 27, and climate change in general.”
Among her favourite pieces are three 25ft lions which she created between 2010 and 2012.
Called the Lionheart Project, it was commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad to mark the 2012 Olympics and was the biggest single-handed crochet sculpture in the world.
She also created a ginger baboon trophy with the likeness of Prince Harry for a feature in the Guardian Weekend magazine called ‘Hang Them: Very very Unofficial Royal Portraits’.
She said: “The piece still hangs in my house, only the prince himself could part me from it.”
Other pieces include a likeness of Boris Johnson as a gorilla, which was commissioned for the Chelsea Flower Show, and a crocheted version of the Town Musicians of Bremen - from the Brothers Grimm fairytale - showing a cockerel on a cat on a dog on a donkey.
She said although the Crochetdermy process was time consuming, it took something other than patience.
Mrs Richardson said: “The process is repetitive and rhythmic, I find it meditative and calming. The more ambitious and longer the project the better.”
She said part of the joy of her work was seeing people’s reactions to the pieces.
“It was no mistake that the first piece I made was a crochet bear.
“I enjoy shattering expectations, creating happy surprises and positive memorable experiences.
Mrs Richardson has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, also called ADHD or ADD. Due to that: “my career was never going to fall within the academic category.”
She said she had always loved art, and after being expelled from school she began travelling and painting, making enough through exhibition sales to keep going. She later completed an arts degree and hit upon Crochetdermy.
Mrs Richardson said trading Leicester for the north Norfolk coast, where she lives with husband Mark, a painter, had been a great decision.
Family holidays had been spent around Brancaster Staithe when she was growing up, so she has long had an affinity for the region.
She said: “I love wild swimming so the proximity to the sea is fabulous, the beach is a constant and wonderful distraction that I am ever happy to give in to. Life in Overstrand is happy and friendly, I feel very lucky to live here.
“The Belfry Centre for Music and Arts is a great asset to the village, there is always something going on.
“The centre run lots of different art classes, and I particularly enjoy their mixture of musical events.”
Mrs Richardson said both she and her husband would take part in this year’s Norfolk and Norwich Open Studios, which runs May 25 to June 9.
She said: “His paintings and drawings will be on display alongside the menagerie of Crochetdermy bears, deer and the like. It will be an eclectic mix.”
To see more of her works, visit www.crochetdermy.co.uk or follow @crochetdermy on Instagram.