I came upon an eye-catching rainbow-coloured tent in the centre of Bonn the other day. Up close, it turned out to have been pieced together from thousands of crotcheted and knitted squares – each an individual and unique piece of handcrafted art, made by different people all over the Rhineland. As I was standing there admiring the tent, the young lady sitting nearby came up and explained what it was and how it came about.
“Wir wollen Vielfahlt” (please click to read more; automatic translation to English is available) – we want diversity – is a movement for inclusion that arose out of the handiwork of a young woman with learning disabilities. Through the medium of woollen threads and a lacemaking spool, she began creating beautifully intricate pieces, each completely different, each one a unique work of art, each a creation borne of love. And the idea of making a tent of many colours and patterns was born. Please click on the photos below to enlarge.
A tent symbolizes a multitude of things — a portable home for nomads (think of a Mongolian ger or yurt or Bedouin tent); a shelter when camping, or a refuge after a natural or man-made disaster. A tent is also a symbol for traditional hospitality and welcome. It is a blessing to house and feed a stranger who turns up at your tent, as we read in the Bible.
This tent of many colours is being exhibited throughout the Rhineland until the end of 2015 to raise awareness for the need to welcome diversity among people – especially those at the periphery of society, those with learning or physical disabilities, those who are isolated such as the elderly, those who are emotionally disturbed. Those who are of different colours, of different beliefs, who think and act in a different way. As the website wir-wollen-vielfahlt states: it is normal to be different.
I had seen a colourful knitted sleeve around an unlikely object in Bonn – a tree trunk near a restaurant on Poppelsdorf on Meckenheimer Allee – and admired it for the creator’s sense of whimsy. I appreciate it all the more now that I know it is part of a growing grass-roots movement for acceptance and tolerance. A heartwarming metaphor — embracing diversity through knitting and crotcheting and other crafts that bind different threads together into a beautiful whole.