dance / “Orb”. Sydney Dance Company. At Canberra Theatre May 25–27. Reviewed by BILL STEPHENS.
ARMED with knitting needles and wool, nannas Annie Close and Gill King aren’t like conventional activists.
They’re members of Knitting Nannas, Faiths and Friends for Freedom From Fossil Fuels or “Knaff”, a group that holds a weekly vigil in support of people who are suffering from the effects of coal, gas, coal-seam gas and oil mining.
“Fossil fuels are dirty, they harm our climate, wreck our air, deplete our water, wreck the soil and wreck human’s health,” Gill says.
This is why every Wednesday the Knitting Nannas can be seen on the corner of Barry Drive and Marcus Clarke Street knitting outside the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.
“It’s really scary, so a lot of our role is supporting people who are worried,” Gill says.
“We have a moral obligation to not harm others, to be fair and care, which resonates with people everywhere, across cultures around the world.
“It’s all about caring, everyone loves their nannas. We’re caring for people and caring for the world.”
The nannas do their best to use humour and granny love to raise awareness towards this current “climate emergency”.
“We’re thinking of setting up some wash basins to ‘clean’ some coal like the nannas up north have done,” Annie says.
Gill and Annie represent the ACT nannas, but they’re not the only granny activists in the world. The Knitting Nannas Against Gas is an international “disorganisation” and the first group to form in Australia was the Northern Rivers in NSW.
The title of “Knitting Nanna” refers to the common stereotype of sweet old ladies but that’s not always the case.
“You don’t have to be a nanna to join and you don’t have to know how to knit, we’ll teach you,” Gill says.
At one stage the group was mostly young males from ANU and Gill says they left knowing how to knit.
The nannas have taken on “knitting” for the title but any other craft form is welcome as long as the participants are passionate about the cause.
“Issues that we’re talking about include safe water, safe air, safe food and health,” Gill says.
But Australia isn’t there yet with these issues and nanna Annie who has two grandchildren, a two-year-old and five-year-old, is worried about their future.
“I can’t tell you how worried I am about their future,” she says.
“If we don’t stop burning fossil fuels then we’ll reach scary temperatures and people can’t live.
“We want people to know that we care about the future of their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“Fossil fuels is a dying industry that’s cropped up artificially for selfish reasons, causing people harm.”
Annie emphasises that solar is cheaper than gas and questions the point of it.
“The Australian Government supplies $7.7 billion in subsidies that could be going to schools and hospitals,” she says.
“We are in the middle of a real-life experiment,” Gill says.
“This is much bigger, this is the survival of human beings.”
The ACT Knitting Nannas can be found on Facebook.