Diefenbunker walls knitted for warmth

CARP – The Diefenbunker Cold War Museum’s concrete walls will be warm for the winter as 2020 Artist-in-Residence Greta Grip’s work will soon be on display.

Last May the Diefenbunker introduced this year’s artist-in-residence. It would be a challenging time, as this is the first time the Diefenbunker has had an artist during a pandemic. But after several months of creativity, Grip is ready to display her contribution to the bunker. But because of the pandemic, it will be virtually.

“Code is essential to the Diefenbunker, an operational communications centre, and to the act of knitting,” Diefenbunker staff released in a statement. Both use code to create, embed, decipher and communicate covert messages. Like the dots and dashes of Morse code and the 0s and 1s that symbolize binary code used in digital computers, knitting relies on two basic states – knit stitch and purl stitch. Grip’s work, which ranges from code messages, icons and QR codes, all created by hand or using a hacked knitting machine, shows us how knitting itself weaves in and out of what can be read and what is hidden.”

Greta Grip show poster.

Grip’s residency took place from January to September, while much of the world sheltered in place, struggling to cope with and understand the coronavirus.

“Largely influenced by the realities of this period, Grip’s work reflects on themes of containment, protection, health and safety, public messaging, community and contribution, which are as evident today as they were during the Cold War, the Diefenbunker said.

“The cold and sterile space at the Diefenbunker has inspired me to bring the warmth of knitting to its walls,” Grip said at the time of her appointment to the role. “The bunker having its origins in uncertain times: to protect, to keep safe, to rebuild is similar to the act of knitting which is often nurturing, providing shelter as well as creating a sense of community but also it is often an isolating act. Both the Diefenbunker and knitting are both entrenched with codes: deciphering, hiding, and creating, of which I will be expanding on during the residency.”

The Diefenbunker will be hosting a virtual vernissage tomorrow (Oct. 15) to introduce Grip’s Containment: Knit Your Art show. The event starts at 7 p.m. on Instagram (we don’t believe you have to have an account on Instagram to watch the show.

From 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. attendees will be able to ask Grip and visitor experience manager Courtney Gehling questions.

The artist-in-residence program was established in 2014. The Diefenbunker Artist-in-Residence Program fosters connections between the museum, local artists, and the wider Ottawa community through the creation and presentation of art inspired by this National Historic Site and its history. Following tomorrow’s vernissage, Grip’s work will be on display until Jan. 31, 2021.