The Design and Make show of the second year textiles students brought together an eclectic mix of fabric designs, from knitted garments to woven rugs. This year, the exhibition featured pieces by all the textiles students in the different specialisations: knit, print and weave. Given three different themes to develop: “Fluctuation”, a “Place of Longing” and “Super Botanic”, they had to begin a project in each of their pathway, based on any of these concepts.
We spoke with 9 Textiles students after the show, who revealed to us how they seek to challenge notions of textiles as domestic, purely decorative or fashion-based. A mission very well accomplished through the creation of work that stretches the preconceptions of what ‘fiber art’ is.
Stephanie Le Masurier, who specialises in weave and knit, explains her concept and why she calls her sketchbook a chaotic/disorganised visual diary of her imagination. “With working at such a rapid pace, I noticed I needed to take my time and analyse what was going on around me. My own wastefulness and consumerism was playing heavily in my mind, and I thought about what I would leave behind if I took myself out of the equation. I then started photographing a lot: things that I wore, things that I found on the street, the dying plants in my living room, images of my family. It emphasised the process of just ‘being’ and how important it was to be just be more aware.”
When asked about the way she sees her sketchbook in the development of her work, she added: “When I start to work, it is usually quite messy and can look disorganised/chaotic. My sketchbook contains work that is quite 3-dimensional, so it is important for me to have a more clean image to take reference from, when I am developing my work. Therefore I usually scan a smaller sketchbook in and work from the scans… I also think my sketchbooks help me to find what I’m trying to say or show with the work, and also reference the work of certain artists that can enhance my research. Phillip Toledano’s book called ‘Bankrupt’ was a big inspiration at the earlier stages of this project because of the way it displayed people’s disorganised chaos. Toledano plays and establishes strong concepts within his work, which I really liked.”
Specialising in Print and Weave, Marie Hazard talks to us about the concept of liminality: a transitional period during which a person lacks social status or rank, and remains anonymous. Marie says how she was touched by the current events in Paris, her hometown, and in particular the issue of migration. “I was interested in this idea of moving from one place to the other, and that is why I decided to work with bicycle tyres on my weave project. The concept of “fluctuation” forced me to question my personality, in a way. I started to work with natural materials to create this idea of traveling and fluctuating. I began to work with my photographs, analysing its colours, materials and textures, and I tried to recreate them in my pieces.”
Having lived in Japan for 6 years during an early stage of his life, Min Kim tells us how much he is influenced by the Japanese culture in his work. “The initial idea for my project came from the view of ‘Wabi-Sabi’: a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centred on the acceptance of transience and imperfection, and how Japanese people try to find beauty in something that is incomplete and humble.” Wood was Min’s chosen texture to represent this idea of old and organic. His main idea was to combine Wabi-Sabi’s aesthetics with the more embellished aesthetics of the Western world.
“I have realised it is not about the outcome for me, it only matters that the textile I’m creating has some third dimension. Then it can be anything.”
Inspired by the Triadisches Ballett, an avant-garde artistic dance, and african hairstyles, Nadia Wire Albrechtsen explored the idea of “Fluctuation” in a sculptural and detailed way. She explained to us how her work developed since the beginning of her BA, and why she shifted from a Fashion Design course in Denmark to a Textiles BA at CSM. “Before I came to CSM, I studied fashion, so I was struggling a bit in the first term to find the balance between textile and fashion, and how I could combine them. I have realised it is not about the outcome for me, it only matters that the textile I’m creating has some third dimension. Then it can be anything: a garment, an accessory, etcetera. I still see myself working in the fashion industry, but I’m certain I would only work in a textiles department, as I find it much more interesting. I love the idea of creating a new unique fabric and working with unconventional materials.”
Still under the “Fluctuation” theme, Annabelle Charlier’s metallic prints and weaves reflect her research very well. “My concept was based on fluctuations of light. I was interested in the idea of light in movement, as well as how light reflects against and through different materials. I explored shiny, matt, glossy, rough and pearly materialities. Gold metal translates this initial research the best. The idea of printing onto metal made me interested in designing textiles for metal armour, like in the middle ages, which could become unique couture pieces. It is about the dialogue between the spotlights shining onto the woman wearing couture and the textiles themselves.”
Violet Miller’s knits and prints were inspired by running in London. As Violet says “I was particularly interested in the different types of surfaces and patterns of pavements, as well as looking at different types of trainers and safety wear. I became fascinated with the raw industrial urban feel of the concrete and wanted to relay this in my textile. I also wanted to challenge the preconception of safety wear by integrating fluorescent yarn and reflective materials in my designing process.”
Although she uses high quality materials and sophisticated techniques, Violet’s work often has a cool, raw look. “The more experimental and playful I am towards my work, the better the end result is. I try not to be too precise with my work or worry about the final outcome. I work on a larger scale making quick abstract marks. In the studio, it was about deconstructing and transforming my materials into something completely new. I experimented by ripping, shedding and cutting, to create different types of textures. I like to be active and not spend too long making one thing. I tend to have a couple of things on the go.”
Acqua Lixon Su is a print and knit student. Her project is about Retro Future places and contemporary artists who explored this theme. In her work, Acqua shows her fascination for everything that is against the “normal”. After visiting God’s Own Junkyard, in Walthamstow, Acqua describes what amazed her about the place, which became her main inspiration for the project. “It is a place filled with neon lights and Joe, the curator, moves stuff very often from one place to the other. As my project was about exploring the idea of a “Place of Longing”, I felt that this place would fit perfectly with the concept.”
Words by Constança Entrudo