Sunday, 16 September 2012

The Art of Inspiration - Part III 'Weaving a story'

Our third and final part inspiration is stylistically miles apart from our Duck Egg designs, but by its very nature is woven into our fabrics. I am constantly drawn to the art of tapestry. On face value tapestry might hold nothing suitable for modern design than a decorative use for keeping our draughts should you happen to live in a medieval castle or like to collect a substantial amount of dust. For these points I beg to differ. The magic of the stories, carefully crafted and coming to life through fabric is entirely magical to me. In the incredible 'Bayeux Tapestry' the force of Halley's comet as it propels its prophesies of bad omens as it powers across the tapestry, the faces of long ago and the chaos of battle so realistically rendered, display the ability of fabric to talk, to tell stories through a medium, which by it's very nature should not allow for fluidity of narrative. Tapestry allows for something other worldly to happen. It is both decorative, yet because it is (to a certain extent) a material  it is therefore something more (or less) than a painting, it is functional and behaves like something more every day, an item of clothing, a soft furnishing. It is a conundrum and we are both detached and attached. So from these epic narratives it encouraged me to allow my designs to tell a story, a story about the countryside - the natural forms and the folk lore.

Bayeux Tapestry

At University when I was studying History of Art, I found myself on an esoteric and rather more demanding course of Medieval art of a specific and defined period in France. There were four of us. It turned out to be the most incredible chance encounter of a lifetime. Through the gentle and scholastic teachings of our guide through this time, I discovered not only the worth and beauty of art such as tapestry but also one of my favourite places in Paris, the Musee de Cluny.

Musee de Cluny

Hidden amongst ancient architecture this gem of a museum boasts amongst many others, the ethereal tapestry, 'The Lady and the Unicorn'. Decorative, evocative and skillful, it is all a hanging should be and all I aspire to when designing our blinds. It is worth a visit and I say this as someone who never thought they could meander through cabinets of mitres, husband in tow at first trailing and then finally drawn into the drama of the eras the museum discloses. It reaffirms my aspirations of decorative fabrics. Through this series on our inspirations I hope it is possible to see that whilst our designs have a more abstract narrative that all our fabric designs tell a tale.

The Lady and The Unicorn (Musee de Cluny)

For us the notion of tapestry evokes a craft created not always by one individual, but often along with the techniques of embroidery and weaving (for the Bayeux is frequently described as an embroidery) these feats are a team effort. This community of weavers and embroiderers acts as an inspiration that looks to the future, that continues to form and reform and is in inherent in the strong and supportive crafts groups that growing in social media. A notion that was as current in Medieval times as it is now.

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