104-Year-Old Yarn-Bomber is the “World’s Oldest Street Artist”

When a local arts event got under their skein, this knitting group took their grievance to the street.

Yarn-bombing, possibly the world’s most twee form of vandalism, has become a world-wide phenomenon, blanketing the planet’s cities with soft, warm, woven symbols of artistic defiance and dissent. Like graffiti and other forms of proactive public art, yarn-bombing can be a boldly unilateral creative force and a fun surprise for people on the street. Unlike graffiti, yarn-bombing, which covers and wraps public spaces with knit or crocheted creations, can easily be cut off with a safety scissor if necessary.

Now, a 104-year-old great-grandmother in Scotland is being called “the world’s oldest street artist” for her participation in the recent yarn-bombing of her town. According to the Daily Dot, a group called the Souter Stormers decided to knit the town red after being denied funding for an event in conjunction with the local YES Arts Festival. Grace Brett, the oldest member of the group, who has six grandchildren and 14 (!) great-grandchildren, has been knitting for most of her life, though she only recently decided to take her talents to the streets. “I liked seeing my work showing with everyone else and thought the town looked lovely,” Brett told the Daily Record earlier this month.

“She thinks it is funny to be called a street artist,” said Brett’s daughter Daphne.

In the works almost a year, the yarn-bombing campaign decorated 46 landmarks in Scotland's Borders County, hitting the local towns of Selkirk, Ettrickbridge and Yarrow. The Souter Stormers covered poles, trees, benches, telephone booths, and a statue of Sir Walter Scott with their creative designs. And according to the Facebook page of a local business called Penelope Textile Limited, the work, while unauthorized, was still roundly appreciated. According to the store’s owner, “…the response has been tremendous, creating grins and gasps all round, and bringing the community of Selkirk together in their surprise and admiration for the works.”

Brett, for her part, says being a part of the Souter Stormers is “very nice.” And though most of the rest of the group are also older than the typical street artist—many members are over 60—they seem particularly proud of their only century-plus contributor.

“How wonderful it has been to have a lady who must be Britain’s oldest guerrilla knitter on board,” Kay Ross, a spokesperson for the group told the Daily Record.

Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

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