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Satellite Reef – UK

Following the hugely successful exhibition of the IFF Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef project at The Hayward gallery in London during summer 2008, the UK Reef is going on tour around Great Britain.

Dates: Sept 11 - November 23, 2008
Cities: Birmingham, London, Dublin, Harrogate.

Exhibition tour sponsored by The Crafts Council. The UK Reef is a co-production of the Southbank Center and the Crafts Council.

The UK Reef (detail) - with candy striped anemone by Ildiko Szabo (foreground) and anemone grove by Beverly Griffiths (background). Photo by George Walker.

The IFF is pleased to announce that following the success of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef at The Hayward, the UK Reef is going on tour to four British cities. More than 100 people around the UK and Ireland contributed crochet models to this unique production, which had its debut showing at the Southbank Center during summer 2008. The UK Reef is the latest of the IFF's sister-city reefs, following the creation of other siblings in Chicago and New York. During its 2008 Fall tour this British marvel will visit Birmingham, London, Dublin and Harrogate.

Locations and dates for UK Reef Tour:

11 Sep - 14 Sep
The Knitting and Stitching Show (NEC, Birmingham)
9 Oct - 12 Oct
The Knitting and Stitching Show (Alexandra Palace, London)
30 Oct - 2 Nov
The Knitting and Stitching Show (RDS, Dublin)
20 Nov - 23 Nov
The Knitting and Stitching Show (Harrogate International Centre)

More information about these events may be seen at:

The UK Reef (detail) - with anemones made from plastic-bag yarn by Lucinda Ganderton. Photo by Vincent Dachy for the IFF.

The UK Reef was constructed under the auspices of a generous grant from The Craft Council, who in early 2008 committed resources for the exhibition at The Hayward and for the production of a local reef. In March 2008 the process began with IFF director Margaret Wertheim presenting crochet reef workshops at the Southbank Center. From there reefers fanned out across the UK. Over the next six months workshops were held at the Southbank Center and at yarns stores in London and other cities. Crochet pieces poured in from London, Liverpool, Peterborough, Dublin, Bangor, and many other cities.

UK Reef Contributors

Below is a complete list of all the contributors to the UK Reef. Thank you to each of them!

Carolyn Abbott, Ai, Max Alexander, Teresa Alho, Gerard Allt, Kate Armfield, Sue Atkinson, Gilda Bagnall, Suzanne Barr, Anne Beales, Katy Bevan, Louise Bird, Tina Bragaelia, Orla Breslin, Anita Bruce, Ann Campbell-Preston, Amanda Childs, Catherine Clark, Clover, Sarah Cobb, Becca Connock, Polly Corrigan, Margaret Cort, Maddy Costa, Crafts Council staff, Yvonne Davies, Heather Darvell, Eleanor Demeger, Poulomi Desai, Christine Edwards, Carol Elsey, Jo Fageant, Rosemary Feber, Jessica Felton, Meghan Fernandes, Lucinda Ganderton, Marion Gore, Lisa Gormley, Harriet Gray, Wendy Greenaway, Green Bay Crochet, Beverley Griffiths, Lesley Griffiths, Inga Hamilton, Howard Hardiman, James Harris, Liane Hayward, James Hervey, Mary Hickey, Zara Hiney, Khadija Ibrahim, I Knit London, Lucy Jacobs, Sally Jaffe, Jenny, Victoria Jones, Zarina Kawaja, Lettice Kemp, Esther Knight, Knit Happens, Susan Koffler, Iris Lasthofer, Sue Livermore, Sue Lucas, Apara Maney, Morwenna Mara, Joanne-Marie Mackinnon, Kirsten Marrs, Ed Mather, Rachael Matthews, Rita McCoy, Theresa Munford, Maria Murray, Sara Noble, Debbie Orr, Sam Orr, Rita Osborn, Park House School, Clare Patterson, Valerie Palmer, Bekki Pearce, Elizabeth Perkins, Anne Pettigrew, Holly Powell, Prick your Finger, Purley Cross WI Craft Group, Queens Park Crochet Group, Alice Raper, Claire Reay, Ian Reay, Nicole Roberts, Mary Ross, Refia Sacks, Sakiko, Carmella Samutt, Madeleine Shepherd, Andrea Siggens, Frances Small, Janet Smith, Cathy Stoddart, Shannon Stanswood, Rosie Sykes, Ildiko Szabo, Tica, Angharad Thomas, Charmaine Tyack, Mimi Valias-Clark, Pirkko Vega, Isobel Vince, Janet Walker, Chika Waterfield, Alison Webster, May Webster, Georgina Rita Weeks, Lisa Weeks, Thea Whalley, Gillie Wilkinson, Anne Willitts, Natalie Willmot, Alex Willumsen, Cathy Woolley, Tyasuko, Angela Yates.

Reefball makers: Gary Whitworth, Chris Sacre, Ari Dyball

The UK Reef showing in Birmingham, September 2008. Photo by Denise Quinn.

A special feature of the UK Reef is its unique mounting. Here, hundreds of individual hyperbolic crochet coral pieces have been attached to giant "reef balls" that simulate the actual reef balls installed under the sea to help regenerate living reefs that have been devastated by environmental stresses such as global warming, pollutants and overfishing. This innovative exhibition mode was designed by the Southbank's participation co-ordinator Cathy Woolley, who worked with local London artists to realize the vision. Below is a picture of the largest UK Reef reef ball installed at the Southbank Center. This giant wonder is more than six feet high. Most of the pieces here have been crocheted from discarded plastic, especially from yarn made by cutting up plastic shopping bags.

The UK Reef, primary "reef ball". On top are a collection of anemone forms made from plastic-bag yarn by Lucinda Ganderton, Beverly Griffiths and Rosy Sykes. The orange comes from Sainsbury's and Okada bags; the lime green is from Marks and Spencers. Thee lime green forms here are made by Liverpool Contributor Ildiko Szabo. Photo by Margaret Wertheim for the IFF.

Each of the half dozen reef balls has its own unique character and colour scheme. Below are images from the blue-green ball and the yellow ball. The collection also includes a red ball, a white ball, and the largest reef ball, which is constructed primarily from plastic-bag string and other plastic threads such a packing tape, video tape and strapping. Each individual piece may take up to dozens of hours to create and the totality of labour here constitutes many thousands of hours.


Two closeup details of the UK Reef photographed in Birmingham by Denise Quinn.

During both The Hayward exhibition and the touring shows, workshops are conducted to teach local citizens the techniques of hyperbolic crochet. This technique was invented by mathematician Dr Daina Taimina and has been adapted by the IFF and our contributors around the world to create an ever-expanding range of reef-like models. Corals, kelps, sponges and nudibranchs have all been successfully simulated using these crafty craft techniques. More information about these techniques can be seen at the IFF website here. (This online exhibit also features an introduction to the subject of hyperbolic space, which is the geometry that underlies many coral reef organisms.)

IFF Online Exhibit about Hyperbolic Crochet and Hyperbolic Space

You may purchase a book which teaches these techniques here:

Reef installer Denise Quinn, taking a break nestled among the UK reef balls in Birmingham

The UK Reef project has been co-sponsored by the Southbank Center and The Crafts Council.

Special thanks to Clare West, Katy Bevan, Cathy Woolley and Becca Connock.

Reef installer Sarah Noble teaches visitors to the Birmingham exhibition how to make hyperbolic crochet corals.