HOPE & SAFE
Daine Singer, Melbourne
HOPE & SAFE presents the material results of Kate Just’s two recent public banner projects in the UK and Melbourne responding to violence against women and current media coverage of this issue. Referencing and reviving moments in feminist history in which collective action and craftwork were deployed to enact change, HOPE & SAFE invokes a utopian reimagining of women’s safety and agency within the urban environment.
In 2013, Just travelled around the UK with her KNIT HOPE Project. It involved an invitation to individuals and communities to publicly join her in knitting a night-reflective fluorescent yellow banner that spells the word HOPE in silver block letters. Later, various HOPE walks were taken in public at night with it. Bearing the artist’s daughter’s name, the resulting HOPE Banner manifests the artist’s wish for a brighter future for women broadly and for her own child specifically. Materially and conceptually, the banner entwines dualities of male and female, public and private, individual and collective. The uniquely patterned individual pieces refer to the work of many hands, joined together to form a seamless whole. The durability of the builder’s line and the high-vis reflective material, which is worn by construction workers, police and cyclists, imbues the banner with a level of visibility and authority. The singular large scale photograph HOPE Walk (Leeds) extends these complexities, documenting a moment in which police on horseback, donning coordinated yellow and silver jackets, asked if they could join the ‘protest.’
On return from the UK in early 2014, Just undertook the KNIT SAFE Project in Melbourne. It involved the communal crafting of a sister banner, a night reflective black and silver ‘blanket’ that spells SAFE. The more sombre SAFE Banner operates as a shield or soft monument constructed in the shadow of recent high profile violent deaths of women in Melbourne including Jill Meagher, Tracey Connelly and Fiona Warzywoda. The photograph SAFE Walk (Melbourne) captures a small group of banner holders quietly interacting with each other in the warm glow of a street lamp, projecting an almost fictional ideal of collective resistance to the harsh realities of the world. Also presented in the exhibition is the book HOPE SAFE, documenting the projects in their entirety and featuring an in-depth essay by art critic and historian Dr Juliette Peers.