Artist's vision of Jesus has many strands

Last updated 13:00 09/03/2011
Jesus Spells
FIBRE INCARNATION: Megan Hansen-Knarhoi, with her installation Jesus Spells at the Suter Art Gallery.

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Megan Hansen-Knarhoi has an unusual, individual take on religious art, as Alice Cowdrey reports.

Artist Megan Hansen-Knarhoi has moulded kilometres of french knitting into a red-lipped Jesus.

She spent the best part of last week creating the bold apparition – wrapping and tightly "shoving" the strands of wool around hundreds of nails banged into the wall of the Suter Art Gallery.

The technique has been used before, with Jesus Spells, an installation at the Suter until April 17, which is Hansen-Knarhoi's fourth detailed "incarnation" of the Christian saviour.

For her three other installations – Jesus, Jesus Wept and Jesus the Second Coming – she used the same balls of french knitting, which took months to complete.

Part way through the installation, a tired Hansen-Knarhoi, surrounded by hammers, balls of wool and nails, said she was running on adrenalin to get the striking image finished.

The born and bred Aucklander has a background in art history and anthropology at university, and her understanding of art stems from religion.

"Jesus Spells, but just what is being spelt out I'll leave up to the viewer to decipher. It's a little magical, a little bit mythological."

During her studies, the words "blue lapis lazuli" were thrown around a lot – and now the regal colour, which was used in Renaissance painting, is one of the predominant features of Jesus Spells.

Coming from Jesus' mouth is a speech bubble – its form made from various crocheted wool crosses in various colours, some with fuzzy edges and others with straight lines, with the message open to interpretation by the viewer.

Hansen-Knarhoi thinks of herself as a sculptor and installation artist, and is into reusing materials – sourcing her wool from op-shops and donations, and stuffing her crosses with the contents of old pillows.

She recently left her job as a cataloguer at the Nelson Provincial Museum to move to Napier, to work at the Hawke's Bay Museum and Art Gallery.

  • Megan Hansen-Knarhoi's installation, Jesus Spells, is at the Suter Art Gallery until April 17.

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