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A Virtual Neural Knitwork

Neural Knitworks TAS is a community art event that encourages community connection via crafting your very own brain cell to create a neural network, such as those in our brain. This event was hosted by the Medical Science Precinct (MSP) Student Committee, as part of National Science Week 2020, between 15-23 August. It was funded by a National Science Week Seed Grant.

Neural Knitworks was first launched at National Science Week in 2014, after textile artist Pat Pillai pitched the concept a year earlier. It has since appeared in dozens of locations across Australia and even in the UK. The initial event invited people to “knit-ins” to make a brain cell with yarn, either by knitting, knotting or wrapping, which were then displayed together in a large walk-in installation to create a neural network, much like those that exist within our brain. The MSP Student Committee brought this event to Tasmania and adapted the idea for COVID-19 times, by creating a virtual neural network where we asked the public to post photographs of their brain cell creations to our Facebook page which now has over 500 followers. A National Science Week Seed Grant funded 500 packs which contained everything members of the public needed to make their own brain cell. The packs were freely available to the public at local cafes around Hobart and Launceston, with 100 of those available to staff and students working at MSP.

Throughout National Science Week, our Facebook page spotlighted local Tassie Scientists who work at the University of Tasmania, with discussions of their research centering on neuroscience, as well as mental and physical health. Members of the organising committee also visited aged care facilities, including Fairway Rise and St Ann’s, where they met with knitting groups, chatted about neuroscience and made brain cells together. We invited staff and students, as well as members of the public, to drop their crafted brain cell to the MSP so we could create a small display in the foyer for those walking past the building. We were delighted to see staff, students and the public engaging with the neural knitworks initiative. Where both avid knitters and those picking up a pair of knitting needles for the first time were getting involved and having a go at making their own knitted neurons. General comments from members of the Medical Science Precinct thought it was a fun idea and genuinely enjoyed using the knitting projects to spend quality time with friends and family. The displayed brain cells will continue their adventures when they are donated to the Royal Hobart Hospital Yarn Bombing 2020 to decorate regions of the Hobart City Centre.

Visit the Neural Knitworks Facebook Page.