Knitted Aladdin Sane raises funds for LandAid

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lisa Bentman's awe-inspiring hand knitted Bowie portrait raises thousands for LandAid

You may remember Lisa Bentman from her fantastic Knitted Nebula back in 2011, which she hand knitted and then auctioned off to raise over £2,000 for Maggie's Cancer Caring Centres. Well, she's been at it again, this time hand knitting a very topical, and very cool, portrait of David Bowie from his Aladdin Sane album. This time Lisa decided to auction it off to raise funds for LandAid. We talked to Lisa about giant charts, favourite Bowie songs and what she's eyeing for next year's charity project. 


What made you decide to embark on this epic feat?

I decided to embark upon this project as I was thinking about a way to raise money for charity through knitting, seeing as though the last charity knitting project I did was back in 2011, and I thought it was about time that I tried to do another charity knitting project.


Tell us a bit about how you did it, from designing to knitting (was it the biggest chart in history?)? 

I had come across a piece of software called 'Pic2Pat' ( which allows one to upload pictures and they will be transformed into tapestry charts, so I uploaded the picture of David Bowie that I wanted to use, and modified the pattern slightly so that it would stretch to fit a 100cm x 150cm canvas which I had lying around, due to a previously abandoned knitting project.


How long did it take?

Knitting the Bowie took five weeks from casting on the first stitch, to mounting the knitting onto the canvas and it took a few extra days to hand-sew the red and blue sequins onto David Bowie's flash.


Did you listen to David Bowie as you knitted?

I did listen to David Bowie as I knitted! Mind you, I'm always listening to Bowie as I'm a big fan, but I had never really listened to Aladdin Sane that much before I embarked on the project. I used to take the knitting with me to do on the tube on the way to work every morning, so I got into the routine of listening to Aladdin Sane whilst I was doing it, in order to spur me onto continuing with the project. Songs like 'Cracked Actor' and 'Drive-In Saturday' have now become my favourite Bowie songs as a result!


Your previous artwork, Orion Nebula, was auctioned off to raise money for Maggie's Cancer Care Centres, Aladdin Sane is going to be auctioned to raise money for LandAid, how did you become involved with them? 

I became involved with LandAid as they are a charity that my company are closely linked with. My company had arranged for a private function to be held at the Victoria and Albert Museum and a colleague of mine had found out that I was knitting this huge portrait of David Bowie. He had a word with the individuals that were arranging the event and they soon became interested in incorporating the portrait into the event in order to raise funds for LandAid. Both the Victoria and Albert museum and LandAid came on board and agreed that it would be a good idea and on the night, the silent auction was held, whereby interested parties could fill in a leaflet with the amount that they would be prepared to bid on the piece. I can now reveal that the winning bid was £2,699 and that my company agreed to match the amount, therefore raising a total of £5,398 for the charity which I'm obviously delighted with!


What did you do with the portrait while it awaited auction?

Whilst the portrait was awaiting auction, it was sent to a professional framers, who treated the work and did a wonderful job in framing it. You can see the picture of the portrait at the Victoria and Albert museum above!


And finally, do you have any plans/ideas about what you will knit next?

As for what I will knit next, I'm currently half-way through knitting a dress from a 1950's pattern - it's quite intricate as it incorporates beads and cable knitting so it's becoming something of a labour of love! Next up, I have a few commissions which I need to get started on and then I shall start to think about what to knit for next year's charity project!  I've always wanted to knit The Beatles into a portrait but couldn't imagine how long that will take! I'm sure a decision will be made and all will be revealed at some point next spring...


You can find out more about Lisa's projects, including more in depth photographs of just how she knitted Bowie over on her blog here.

Photos © Yohanna Akladious

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