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Ildiko Szabo

Liverpool, UK

by Ildiko Szabo

Once upon a time there was ice-cream .... then there was Ildiko. Ildiko started sending us photos of her work when her pallet was purely white. We loved her forms and her photos, which reminded us so strongly of Ernst Haeckel. We wanted to see More. She sent us a box of creatures all made in pastel tones - creamy pinks and delicate blues, mixed with touches of electric green and orange. We were enchanted and amazed - electric green and orange being our favorite colors. We sent her a box of yarns and furs in these shades and asked her to do what she would. What she sent back you can see below - a little whimsical "pop" garden - like Mary Quant on acid channeling a Silurean dream.

Ildiko Szabo is a costume-maker living in Liverpool, England. She is originally from Hungary and reckons that she is the only person in Liverpool wearing electric pink and orange. Ildiko has an amazing sense of both color and form - on her own beneath the grey Puddlian skies - she single-handedly invented this astonishing taxonomy.

Here are some close-ups of Ildiko's electric-acid forms. This one is a patch of corals composed from crocheted bullions.

Here is another patch of corals made from a mass of "curlicues" connected together along a spine. The curlicue is a traditional crochet form that happens to be hyperbolic - a lovely demonstration that handicrafters have instinctively been working with non-euclidean space for centuries. On the right is a patch of flourescent kelp. It's not hyperbolic but we love it anyway.


Here, Ildiko has done something clever that we can't quite figure out. The branches of this anemone form twist into spirals. It's harder than it looks to achieve this effect and our efforts at replication have so far been unsuccessful. The mysteries of crochet-organicism are an endless source of wonder.

Ildiko's models are among the stars of the UK Reef which was constructed during 2008 and exhibited alongside the IFF's Reefs in a joint exhibition at The Hayward gallery and the Southbank Center in London. For this exhibition Ildiko expanded the repertoire of spiralized forms she's been developing. Seen above are several of these forms fringed with fluorescent down. In this case they are wondrously evocative of anemones with delicate feeding tentacles scanning the water for food. The anemones are surrounded by a cluster of other Ildiko sea creatures - a veritable taxonomy of marine marvels.

Ildiko's models are seen above adorning one of the "reef-ball" clusters of the UK Reef. Here we see the variety of different structures that may be realized through crochet spiralization. While some of the forms resemble anemones and tube worms, others resemble periwinkles and a range of different shells. One begins to understand that, as in nature, tiny variations on a single structural crochet theme may lead to a wide variety of animal or organismal morphologies. Ildiko is a master of structural exploration and has remained consistently one of the IFF's most diverse innovators.

The UK Reef (detail), with candy striped anemone by Ildiko Szabo. Ildiko's work inspired brilliant UK contributor, Beverly Griffith, whose delicate orange anemone grove is pictured in the background. This cluster of UK Reef models is among our favorite groupings in all the reefs. Photo by George Walker, for the Southbank Center.

Flourescent coral garden by Ildiko Szabo, with hot pink coral by Anitra Menning and flower-tower anemone from thrift store, by maker unknown. Seen here at the Crochet Reef exhibition, Scottsdale AZ (2009). Photo IFF Archive.