In her artistic practice Felicity Ford AKA Felix works with digital recordings of everyday sounds. In some projects these sounds are combined with hand-knitting. Felix began merging knitting with sounds while studying for an MA in Sonic Art & Composition at Oxford Brookes University and attending a local knitting group – The Oxford Bluestockings. She created her first knitted speaker system in 2007. Her practice lies at the intersection of craft and art and she is especially interested in using sounds to amplify and celebrate women’s history, and to explore the politics and textures of daily life.
Some of the different contexts explored through recent commissions include wallpaper and home decorating; the maternity movement in the UK prior to the creation of the NHS; the commercial production of viscose and silk; the relationship between the city of Oxford and the clothing worn by its inhabitants; and the life of Charles Dickens’s wife – Catherine Dickens. In all these projects, sound has been used to creatively elevate and examine everyday things, women’s labour, and the home as a specific, sonic site of meaning.
Relatedly, projects such as Listening to Shetland Wool (Shetland); Hûrd – a KNITSONIK PRODUKTION (Cumbria) and The Wool Exchange (Estonia) have shaped her perspectives on working woollen landscapes as a distinctive and important context for contemporary hand-knitters. Working with her podcast and online presence, she uses sounds to draw hand-knitters more closely into the landscapes from which their wool is ultimately derived. Every November, Felix dedicates herself to the production of WOVEMBER – a month long celebration of sheep and wool with a connected campaign to change textile labelling laws and practices.
Working on these creative projects and studying for her PhD has given Felix a strong grounding in managing a creative process – transferable skills that she wanted to translate into a practical knitting book for adventurous knitters. In 2014, she crowdfunded the publication of the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook – a book that shows you how to translate everyday inspirations into stranded colourwork. It is now in its third print run and an album of sounds celebrating the same inspiration sources as those celebrated visually in the book is due for release in 2017. Related to this book, she is developing an online school and a YouTube channel.
Photo of Felicity Ford in Shetland recording sounds for Listening to Shetland Wool; photo © Lisa Anne Auerbach and used with kind permission
Felicity Ford is an associate artist of Oxford Contemporary Music.