Arte del filo

Practice of togetherness and belonging among
the Italian knitting and crochet group in London

Textile Art Photography

12 individual photographic portraits on fabric (H 70 x W 60cm)

This series of 12 individual photographic portraits is made with cotton canvas, image transfers from photocopies and pigmented inkjet prints, Granny Squares Crochet and colourful crochet flowers. The collection of portraits celebrates the knitting and crochets club’s community members who created a very welcoming place which feels like family.

Frédérique Cifuentes wanted to explore the techniques to transfer images onto textiles and produce artwork embellished with traditional needlework. The unique handmade items are made with decorative, floral or classic Italian crochet stitch, which is an art that has been passed from one generation to the next in Italy. The collection of Textile Fiber photography prints refers to the Italian traditions and know-how. Knitting and crochet plays a key role in Italian culture, as it has for the last several centuries. Frédérique Cifuentes wanted to mix the world of needlework with her background in photography, as homage to the Artisans and handcraft of Italy.

As part of her research among the Italian community in London in 2022-2024, Frédérique regularly visited visited the kitting and crochet group that meets every Wednesday afternoon at the Casa Italiana San Vincenzo Pallotti social club. We know that needlecraft activities bring lots of benefits. It helps with stress and anxiety, reduces loneliness, sustains older people and strengthens social ties. More broadly, knitting is a powerful tool for exploring the production of culture and identity. Traditional crafts play an important part in telling the stories of a culture or communities, representing histories and heritage.

The aim of this research was to look at the meanings associated with knitting and crochet and its role in the preservation of the conviviality and connection among the Italian community in London. Drawing on observations and in depth interview with members of the knitting group, this project offers further investigation on the construction of identity and belonging through craft. The findings detail how everyday practices can bring people together across generations, support memories and traditions.