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The event will start with an introduction from Des Pawson and artist Joanna Whittle, but the rope-making activities will be drop-in over the afternoon. 

Historian Solomon Gandz described knots as being the first ‘primitive memory-tool, serving to bind a flying past, to tie up fleeting memories’ and since ancient times knots have been used to record and pass on information and to aid the memory as a memoria technica.

In conjunction with Joanna’s work in the Platform 20: Heavy Water exhibition at Site Gallery, Des will be creating a number of Memory Ropes enabling participants to weave their own acts of remembering into communal ropes which will be shaped to form part of an evolving installation during the duration of the exhibition.

Des will also be sharing his considerable knowledge on the history of ropes and knotting and there will be an opportunity to learn simple knots to create charms to add to the ropes or a wider installation. Participants are asked to bring items with them which can be added to the rope such as string, cord, fabric strips, hair shoelaces, flowers, rags or charms. Anything to create a collective memorial to our individual remembering.

Suitable for ages 5+.

This activity will take place outdoors on Site Square, opposite the gallery on Brown Street. It’s essential that you sign in at Site Gallery reception and a member of staff will direct you to the event. 

Please note that anyone over the age of 11 should wear a mask unless exempt. We ask you to respect our staff, volunteers and visitors by following our house rules relating to Covid-19 safety during your visit.


Des Pawson (MBE) is one of the world’s leading authorities on knots and sailors’ ropework. A researcher and historian on the subject, he is the author of many books and papers and works alongside his partner Liz to deliver ropemaking workshops and share the history knots.

Joanna Whittle is a painter who also works with ceramics. She is part of the Freelands Foundation Platform 20 residency at Site, and her work can be seen as part of Platform 20: Heavy Water at Site Gallery from 27 July – 22 August.

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