The creation of a design or a product is a long introspective journey. It can be literal or metaphorical and in my case, for this collection, it was both.
My journey started in Patagonia. It spanned 4000 miles on rough roads, with endless open plains and with the line of the Andes ever present as a backdrop. Throughout my voyage, the contrast between macro and micro deeply struck me: vast landscapes with seemingly empty spaces, yet if one looked closely, tiny plants, berries, flowers and lichens sprouted out everywhere in this hostile environment. Then the textures, layers of contrasting surfaces, and vivid colours revealed themselves to the discerning eye. I remember fondly the glacial waters of every shade of blue green and grey, as well as the shades of brown with intermittent pops of bright colours from flora and fauna. The richness and diversity was staggeringly beautiful.
These landscapes form the beginning of the creative process. I start by collating information through drawings, photographs and notes. Then I assemble mood boards, adding artists, fabric swatches and threads, till I have a visual and tactile representation to refer to. This gives a starting point for the next process of investigation and exploration.
Experimentation is a vital part of any artistic practice, as without it there is no growth or learning. However, it is the part I find the hardest as my internal dialogues have to be mastered or ignored for this development to take place. I start to work with cloth, small samples at first. I ignore colour as I find that in the early stages colour is a distraction; it is the textures, composition, scale and shapes that I am interested in at this point. Colour will come later, when I can focus my full attention on it. In this collection I was particularly taken with how the granite face of a mountain was etched with the most beautiful and delicate lines. I thought about how to achieve this effect with cloth and I ended up binding the cloth tightly, with the result of delicate, flowing lines.
I then use long pieces of lining paper to sample ideas on a larger scale. These make me braver and bolder in my experiments and decision-making. To achieve the textures that are important to me I work tonally, which allows me to build up layers in the dyeing process. To include the sparks of colour that have revealed themselves to me, these are pieced into the fabric, using a pleated finish and making an asymmetric design.
The fabric has to be right. I use a silk and bamboo mix, as silk takes the colour beautifully and bamboo gives a wonderful drape and softness.
All these decisions and steps are the journey that each collection embarks on. Time and effort together with passion and curiosity lead to the final resolution.
Image credits: Deimante Meilune