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Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef samples

Made 2009
These Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef samples were donated by the InStiches artist collaboration comprising Claire Conroy, Michaela Davies and Charlotte Hayward in 2009. Produced by the artists, volunteers, and workshop participants as part of an artist-in-residency program at the Bundanon Trust, New South Wales, these twelve samples were donated to the Museum's collection after they were displayed at the Ultimo Science Festival in August 2009. InStiches facilitated the Sydney Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef as a local chapter, a satellite site, to a much larger project that began in 2005 at the Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles in America by scientist Margaret Wertheim. What began as a crochet project between she and her twin sister, Professor Christine Wertheim of the California Institute of Arts (CalArts), has grown into a global art and science phenomenon that in the first decade of the 21st century was part of an artistic response to global warming.

Comprised largely of crocheted wool, but also of plastics, film reel, ropes and fibre optic cable, these component crochet samples are then pinned together to create coral reef landscapes that represented the effect that global warming and plastic trash have on our oceans. They are also intriguing examples of non-euclidean geometry and hyperbolic space, which together with a workforce that is 90% female, somewhate elevates the notion of crochet as a female handicraft, to crochet as a design function for mathematical modeling. When these models are applied to wool via crochet, they produce recognisable biological entities. In fact, it is difficult to model hyperbolic geometry any other way, even by computer. This was discovered by Cornell mathematician Dr. Daina Taimina in 1997.

What Dr. Taimina, the Wertheim sisters, InStitches and all of the participants in the production of hyperbolic crochet are doing is engaging people with abstract mathematics in a visual and tactile way.

By Deborah Turnbull
Assistant Curator
--- - accessed 4 August 2014 - accessed April 14, 2014

Margaret Wertheim. A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space: an exploration of the intersection of higher geometry and feminine handicraft. The Institute for Figuring, Los Angeles, CA, USA. © Margaret Wertheim, 2007.


Object No.


Object Statement

Crochet samples, Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef, wool / plastic, made by In Stitches Collective (Claire Conroy, Michaela Davies and Charlotte Hayward), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2009

Physical Description

12 samples of hyperbolic crochet in the form of coral reef sea life, various shapes, sizes and colours, wool and plastic.


No marks





These samples were produced during the lead up to the Ultimo Science Festival 2009 held at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney and displayed as part of the festival from 22-29 August 2009. Producers included the artists from the In Stitches Collective (Claire Conroy, Michaela Davis and Charlotte Hayward), volunteer knitters and crafters, and workshop participants. Samples such as these created the larger exhibition reefs, and came to the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney via workshops in Wollongong, Castle Hill and Alice Springs. There was also a Call Out for Contributors posted Sydney Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef website on 5 August 2009, whereby participants could post or drop off their samples in person. A full list of contributors/producers can be found at: Materials used were both traditional and contemporary, with components of the reef comprising yarn, wire, VHS tapes, rope and fibre optic cables.



These samples are part of a larger global phenomenon of Crochet Coral Reef, of which the Sydney chapter is a satellite site. Run by In Stitches Collective and developed out of an artist-in-residency program at the Bundanon Trust, NSW in Australia, the movement began at the Institute for Figuring in Los Angeles, California, USA in 2005 by Margaret Wertheim. The project priority was to bring attention to the effect global warming and plastic trash are having on our oceans. Through community art, handicraft, marine biology and mathematics, the Crochet Coral Reef project has been seen by more then three million people. Touring venues have typically been art and science museums, namely the Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh), The Hayward (London), the Science Gallery (Dublin), the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC) and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia.


Credit Line

Gift of the In Stitches Collective, 2009

Acquisition Date

22 September 2014

Cite this Object


Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef samples 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 28 May 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef samples |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=28 May 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


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