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AJAs 2020 Finalists

The Yarnbomber | Not Your Grandmudder's Knitting: A Yarnbomber Leaves Her Mark in Newfoundland


Date Aired or Published June 3, 2020
Media outlet where first aired or published: [EDIT] magazine
Name of Program:
If co-produced, list partner:
Location: Twillingate, Newfoundland and Labrador
List awards, grants:
Running time (TV/Radio):

Short explanation of the story and how it developed:

In these parts, trigger mitts, work socks and delicate doilies are often the handiwork of grandma (or "grandmudder," as people affectionately refer to Nan down home in Newfoundland and Labrador). But on the islands that make up Twillingate, off the northeastern shores of the island of Newfoundland, yarn has arrived in surprising new forms — stapled to clapboard structures as street art. These are definitely not your grandmudder’s variety of knit and crochet goods either. Picture hearts and happy faces; life-sized characters like Waldo (of Where’s Waldo?) and Popeye; and familiar Newfoundlandia such as a tin of Carnation evaporated milk and a bag of Purity hard bread. Now imagine those hand-stitched wares affixed to wood siding, boarded-up windows, light poles and abandoned roadside signs. It’s the work of Nina Elliott, who goes by the alias “The Rock Vandal.” Journalist Jenn Thornhill Verma stumbled upon The Rock Vandal's work while researching another project in 2018. She followed Elliott's growth as an artist and pitched this profile to [EDIT] magazine because her story and artwork are bucking trends. At a time when NL's population is shrinking and aging, Elliott moved her young family to Twillingate. While many artists are reliant on juries and galleries to showcase their work, Elliott is carving a new path, where she decides her canvas, which is as unexpected as her next installation. The story reveals how Elliott's art has segued into "craftivism" too, relying on art for advocacy. And her work is often interactive, only complete when the viewer becomes involved in the artwork (often through taking a "selfie"). After this story was published, Elliott was featured on CTV national news; she also went on to exhibit Newfoundland and Labrador's only outdoor art exhibit. It's a profile of an artist who can inspire other up-and-coming artists to create their own platform on their own terms in the places they call home. The profile also shows how rural fishing outports like Twillingate have many faces thanks to those who are reinventing what outport life means.

Resources of the newsroom (money and time) available to complete the story:

Some of the reporting was carried out on site in Twillingate and the rest carried out remotely. [EDIT] paid freelance journalist Jenn Thornhill Verma a flat fee of $250 to produce the story. The photos are also Jenn Thornhill Verma's with additional photos by the subject, Nina Elliott. The magazine dedicated seven print pages to this piece in its July issue. The story now appears online.

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