María José Reina and Pilar Marín, beside one of their creations. :: L.P.
Two ladies from Estepona have begun to decorate the trees in the Avenida Litoral
Pedestrians, or the many cars that drive along Avenida Litoral on their way in or out of Estepona, will have seen recently how the trees growing there have begun to change colour. Their trunks are covered with knitted and crocheted fabric created by Pilar Marín and María José Reina, two local ladies who decided to give this avenue a rather special touch.
Pilar and María José love knitting and sewing and they found a multitude of possibilities on the Internet.
“I have always done crochet, but the thing is that I could only make old-fashioned things, like doilies. Through reading blogs and other web pages I discovered that you can make many other things and even create urban art. Some people call it yarn bombing,” explains Pilar.
The first three trees they decorated have proved so popular that they are planning to continue and cover as many as they can.
“It takes us about a week to create a cover for one tree. I’m the quickest because I knit, which involves two needles, but Pilar’s crochet only uses one,” says María José.
Fitting the three covers took them a morning. “We did it in our own time, resting every now and again and smoking our cigarettes,” they say. With the material already prepared, all they have to do is sew it together close to the trunk; one of the ladies stands on the ground and the other stands on a ladder, to join the fabric together.
“We leave it a certain distance above the ground, so it doesn’t get damaged by the earth or by dogs. And we put the top piece at a height of two metres, so it is not too difficult to stitch together,” explains Pilar.
Their initiative was given the go-ahead by the mayor, but for the first three trees the ladies did not need any assistance from the local council.
“At the Town Hall they offered us all sorts of assistance, from buying us materials to closing the road, but it was a lot of pressure for us. It’s the first time we have done anything like this and this way, if something goes wrong, nobody need know about it,” says Pilar.
Social networking sites helped Pilar and María José to remain motivated. “People wrote to us on Facebook and congratulated us on what we were doing. We were also encouraged to carry on because with all this colour the avenue looks really pretty. We have found photos that we didn’t even know people had taken of us and our friends have told us about them,” Pilar says.
This hobby made María José’s days more bearable. “My husband works and my children are grown up now, so I spend most of the day at home on my own. Now we have thought of doing this, when I have a bit of free time I pick up my wool and the needles and start knitting. It has stopped me feeling so bored at home,” explains María José.
The whole idea came about from a meeting of friends who enjoy cooking. “I had decided to make one of the things I had seen on the Internet, but none of my friends knew how to knit. At one of the meetings I mentioned it to María José and she thought it was a great idea,” explains Pilar.
“It seems that things are going back to the way they used to be. Now there are a lot of cookery programmes on the television, and people are recycling things to use them again,” adds Pilar.
Yarn bombing’ is now an Internet phenomenon
In recent years, decorating urban items with home-made covers has become a fashion which quickly turned into a form of urban art. The movement is called ‘Yarn bombing’ and in Spain it has made an appearance in cities such as Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao and La Coruña, but Pilar Marín and María José Reina are the first to have done it in Estepona. They are aware that other people may be interested in joining in. “ June 8th is the International Day of Yarn Bombing, and we are thinking about organising some sort of event here. Now that the streets are being decorated with coloured flowerpots, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for everyone who likes working with wool and a needle to meet in one of the squares and decorate it with our creations”, explains Pilar. Even though the two of them are decorating the whole of the Avenida Litoral on their own, they are open to the idea of more people joining in and enjoying this recent craze. This form of urban art started to take off in London in 2009 when the artist Deadly Knitshade decided to start putting coats on items he found in the street. That is why pieces of fabric decorate trees, street lamps, traffic signs and even entire houses in a multitude of countries. In Estepona, this phenomenon has only just begun.