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Nadia Severns


Nadia Severns Bottle Tree Garden at The Hayward gallery in London (2008)

Nadia Severns is an artist who came to came to the Crochet Reef Project through her involvement with the creation of the New York Reef during the spring of 2008. Nadia's work is like nothing we had seen before: she has specialized in creating coral reef forms crocheted around discarded plastic water bottles. Seen here are photos of a beautiful little garden of her Bottle Tree Forms installed at The Hayward gallery as part of the IFF's Crochet Coral Reef exhibition during summer 2008.

Hayward gallery installation photos by Vincent Dachy for the IFF.

Nadia's forms are made by using plastic bottles as a structural base then crocheting flange-like embellishments around these containers in loops and circles and spirals. Much of the yarn she uses is handspun creating an exquisite fusion of "trash" and "treasure." Fringes of plastic and bottle caps are added for a final touch. What is so remarkable here is Nadia's confident navigation between the realms of plastic and fiber - she blends them into a whole that seems at once wholly surprising and utterly natural.

Here is how Nadia describes her life and history as an artist:

I have a long history of involvement in the arts. Originally I trained as a percussionist and composer, then I started doing beadwork in the 1960s and knitwear in the 1970s.

I have worked as a knitting pattern designer since 1979 and have designed and created prototypes for magazines such as Vogue Knitting, Knitter’s, Women’s Day Christmas Crafts, Women’s Day Crafts and Needlework, and Family Circle Knitting as well as several yarn companies including Brown Sheep, Classic Elite, and Skacel. I also create skiwear designs that have been sold at Coldwater Creek, Lord and Taylor, and Daytons. My designs and patterns have been featured in several books, including three of the Vogue Knitting To Go collections and two of the Knitter’s Dozen books. A sweater I made was featured on the cover of Knitter magazine's African issue and caught the attention of Bill Cosby, leading to me being hired to make sweaters for his television show.

Closeups of Nadia's bottle tree coral sculptures.

More about Nadia's life and history in the fibre arts:

As an artist I have lectured and taught at conferences up and down the east coast. My most popular courses include color theory, design, and my "Treasure Pockets" - knitted evening bags embellished with beaded fringes. I have also judged a variety of knitting and beading competitions such as the South Jersey Bead Binge and the Red Scarf contest for the Philadelphia Knit Out.

Drawing on my textile background, I have also designed and created a variety of intricate beadwoven pieces of jewelry that runs the gamut from finely linked gemstones and diamonds to highly structured three-sided Ndebele creations. I view my jewelry as a natural extension of my highly embellished knitwear.

Langman Gallery in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania has represented my work since 2002. My pieces can also be found at the House of Lyndon in Gallup, New Mexico and at New Traditions in Moorestown, New Jersey.

Infant coral sculptures by Nadia Severns.