Christine and Margaret Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef sits somewhere between sculpture and a device for learning, a botanical, biological model. Such three-dimensional models were once made out of glass; in the Wertheims’ project, the forms are made in crochet. Yarn, thread, wire, old video-tape, beads, one stitch upon another, all combine gradually to make a series of coral reefs. An elegant alliance of science and art, the Crochet Coral Reef reflects the twins’ biography: Margaret, trained as a physicist, is an acclaimed science author; Christine, a poet and former painter, is a professor of critical studies.
One evening in 2005 in the Wertheim sisters’ living room, gazing at the woolly forms scattered on the coffee table, Christine uttered the words, “We could crochet a coral reef!”. Margaret posted an invitation to join the project online, and small and large models began to appear in the mail, to combine with the forms the sisters were making. What emerged was an expansive proposition: the Crochet Coral Reef as something that takes and represents time and imagination, and non-hierarchical collaboration. To date, more than 10,000 participants have collectively crocheted over forty Satellite Reefs in different cities and countries.