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University of Auckland alumna knits rainbow leg warmers for Boy Walking sculpture

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22 March 2022

University of Auckland alumna Jo McDonald Hooker took up knitting during lockdown to ease anxiety and have something to do while watching “terrible reality shows.” Since then, her work has been showcased all around Tāmaki Makaurau including on the legs of the iconic Boy Walking sculpture at Potter’s Park.

By day, Jo is a marketing professional who has held roles in places such as Auckland Zoo, JetStar, Vodafone, and Spark, and is currently Category Marketing Manager at Farmers. She studied a Bachelor of Arts in film, television and media studies, and psychology. 

When asked if she has always been a creative person and maker, the mum-of-two says “Yes and no. I was musical and artistic in school but now, working in marketing, I’m more of a storyteller. I do however delve into costume making, and Halloween is always an event in our household! Creativity has added a lot of joy to my life that is easy to lose when you get bogged down with things like work.”

Jo’s latest project involved knitting a pair of striped rainbow leg warmers on the six-meter sculpture of a boy walking through Potters Park in Mt Eden. The installation was just one of many colourful additions to the city that appeared for Auckland Pride, Aotearoa’s largest pride festival celebrating rainbow communities every February.

She was inspired to take on the project by her daughter. Jo says, “My daughter and I had been having some interesting conversations about gender and sexuality. I’ve knitted a lot of rainbows thanks to the kids in my life, but those conversations got me thinking about how I could move from just wrapped rainbow trees to rainbows with meaning. I drive past Boy Walking to drop my kids at school every day, so it just felt like he was the perfect place.”

Ronnie van Hout, creator of the sculpture, and Auckland Council were incredibly supportive of the project which was also received positively by the wider community. “When yarnbombing, I normally bomb and move on in the cover of darkness but this project forced me to interact with an audience. It was frightening, exciting and confronting all at the same time,” says Jo.

Despite knitting being a mainly solitary activity for her, Jo recognises that it can also be an incredibly rewarding community experience when shared with like-minded people. She returned to the University of Auckland this year to inspire the next generation of creators and makers, speaking at the University of Auckland Maker Club’s inaugural yarnbombing event. She says, “I really enjoyed talking about my experience as a maker and how it has impacted me day-to-day. I’ve found that being creative and doing something as simple as knitting has brought me joy in bright and surprising ways, and I hope that other people find a hobby that brings that out in their lives too.

“For those who may be interested in making but unsure how to begin, my advice is to just try. Start with something easy. I only know one stitch, but I’ve got lots of wool, big needles, and at least two seasons of the Kardashians to keep up with. Sometimes, that’s all you need to make art.”

Society can at times glorify making as a commodity to be sold, but Jo remains passionate about simply making for the sake of making. She says, “I struggle with creativity for a purpose. I only play music when others aren’t around, and I only make things for myself. So a lot of my creativity is a little selfish in that I do it for myself. However, I love that yarnbombing allows me to share my creativity with other people but not actually have to share myself. I install at 5am in the morning when no-one can see me, and I just leave it there in the hope that it brightens someone’s day.”

Listen to Jo’s interview about her Boy Walking project with Radio NZ

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

social media

22 March 2022

University of Auckland alumna Jo McDonald Hooker took up knitting during lockdown to ease anxiety and have something to do while watching “terrible reality shows.” Since then, her work has been showcased all around Tāmaki Makaurau including on the legs of the iconic Boy Walking sculpture at Potter’s Park.

By day, Jo is a marketing professional who has held roles in places such as Auckland Zoo, JetStar, Vodafone, and Spark, and is currently Category Marketing Manager at Farmers. She studied a Bachelor of Arts in film, television and media studies, and psychology. 

When asked if she has always been a creative person and maker, the mum-of-two says “Yes and no. I was musical and artistic in school but now, working in marketing, I’m more of a storyteller. I do however delve into costume making, and Halloween is always an event in our household! Creativity has added a lot of joy to my life that is easy to lose when you get bogged down with things like work.”

Jo’s latest project involved knitting a pair of striped rainbow leg warmers on the six-meter sculpture of a boy walking through Potters Park in Mt Eden. The installation was just one of many colourful additions to the city that appeared for Auckland Pride, Aotearoa’s largest pride festival celebrating rainbow communities every February.

She was inspired to take on the project by her daughter. Jo says, “My daughter and I had been having some interesting conversations about gender and sexuality. I’ve knitted a lot of rainbows thanks to the kids in my life, but those conversations got me thinking about how I could move from just wrapped rainbow trees to rainbows with meaning. I drive past Boy Walking to drop my kids at school every day, so it just felt like he was the perfect place.”

Ronnie van Hout, creator of the sculpture, and Auckland Council were incredibly supportive of the project which was also received positively by the wider community. “When yarnbombing, I normally bomb and move on in the cover of darkness but this project forced me to interact with an audience. It was frightening, exciting and confronting all at the same time,” says Jo.

Despite knitting being a mainly solitary activity for her, Jo recognises that it can also be an incredibly rewarding community experience when shared with like-minded people. She returned to the University of Auckland this year to inspire the next generation of creators and makers, speaking at the University of Auckland Maker Club’s inaugural yarnbombing event. She says, “I really enjoyed talking about my experience as a maker and how it has impacted me day-to-day. I’ve found that being creative and doing something as simple as knitting has brought me joy in bright and surprising ways, and I hope that other people find a hobby that brings that out in their lives too.

“For those who may be interested in making but unsure how to begin, my advice is to just try. Start with something easy. I only know one stitch, but I’ve got lots of wool, big needles, and at least two seasons of the Kardashians to keep up with. Sometimes, that’s all you need to make art.”

Society can at times glorify making as a commodity to be sold, but Jo remains passionate about simply making for the sake of making. She says, “I struggle with creativity for a purpose. I only play music when others aren’t around, and I only make things for myself. So a lot of my creativity is a little selfish in that I do it for myself. However, I love that yarnbombing allows me to share my creativity with other people but not actually have to share myself. I install at 5am in the morning when no-one can see me, and I just leave it there in the hope that it brightens someone’s day.”

Listen to Jo’s interview about her Boy Walking project with Radio NZ


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