Knit The Campus: Optus Yarn Bombing

Words Emma Saunders

On a cold afternoon in July, an enthusiastic group of Optus staff gathered in a room filled with mountains of yarn in a rainbow of colours to participate in the Art Pharmacy Consultancy collaboration with Optus – an ambitious project to yarn-bomb the Optus Macquarie Park campus.

Yarn bombing, for those who don’t know, is the process of decorating a space, whether it be a street, a city, or a campus with yarn, especially through knitting and crochet. Poles are usually the first to be wrapped up and decorated in vibrant colours and patterns. Trees are often the next to be yarn-bombed and soon they, too, are adorned with colour – pom-poms hanging from branches, tassels swaying in the wind.

The aim of this collaboration between Art Pharmacy and Optus is to enhance the sense of community between Optus employees. To bring people together from across the business that wouldn’t normally meet in the course of the work day, creating a sense of community with broader benefits to the individuals and organisations. This sense of community, as workshop leader Jane Balke Andersen noted, is a large part of the arts and crafts community where individuals help each other on various projects, strengthening their skill set and learning new skills along the way.

By participating in an activity outside of their usual work environment it has also strengthened personal and professional relationships within the organisation. At the first session the conversation varied between the work-related and the strictly functional – such as asking which crochet pattern was best for a novice (the flower) and what colours would be best for a pom-pom (a patriotic yellow and green).

The experience also helps to bring creativity to a corporate environment. As Jane celebrated, ‘It’s great that these employees have the opportunity to play and create and that’s great. Not many companies walk it as they talk it.’

Over the course of a month, four workshops and a weekend installation of the project will take place. The plan is to cover the Optus ‘campus’ at Macquarie Park in yarn, 5 kilograms of yarn to be precise. Pillars will be yarn bombed, pom-pom walls will be created, and trees will host an abundance of tassels, pom-poms, and crocheted mandalas.

The campus will be a lively riot of colour, just in time to celebrate the vibrancy of the Rio Olympics celebrations.

You can follow the process and learn more by following #knitthecampus.

Wendy Kimpton