Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Degree Show 2012

The moment I have been working towards for the last three years has almost arrived. Friday 1st June has been set as the date for the Private Viewing of my Degree Show (situated at the Markeaton Street campus). From Saturday 2nd June the Exhibition is open to the public Monday - Saturday (excluding bank holidays)until 12th June. If you would like to visit the show, please feel free to do so, for further details of opening times, events and the location of the campus please follow the link below:

If you are interested in attending the Private View please do not hesitate to contact me (or if you would like to discuss my work and conceptual ideals in person).

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Business Cards

This morning, much to my excitement, my business cards arrived in the post. I decided to use the website to design my business cards and have them printed for several reasons, largely because their paper stock is thick, satin laminated and achieves an accurate representation of colour (which is an essential element when representing my work). But also their materials are sustainably sourced and competitively priced.

I chose to print 6 varying designs on my cards which represented some of the designs within my final collection. I also felt myself unable to resist including a pen study of a rat which I had completed earlier in the project, as it displays my hand drawing abilities, and represents my personal, subversive nature.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Scarves at Saint Werburgh's

In order to visualise my collection and represent my designs appropriately I took a number of photographs at Derby Cathedral and Saint Werburgh's Church. The location was a very important, conscious decision, as every day for the past three years I have walked through Saint Werburgh's Churchyard on my commute to university. The building has always held a certain fascination for me, as I adore its Gothic style and exquisite craftsmanship of the building, however its disuse makes it rather mysterious and sad. In relation to the context of my project, Saint Werburgh's was a perfect choice for a location, its deconsecration and decay relates directly to my questioning of faith and many of its 'traditional' aspects. The church sits lonely, empty, vandalised, adorned daily with groups of homeless people, passed by and ignored by commuters, with no place in the busy cityscape other than a convenient shortcut. To me the church is a representation of Christianity in modern society, an archaic, fading glory, still cherished by a small few, ignored by the majority, until it becomes in some way convenient.

The location also felt appropriate, as it marks the end of three years commuting to Derby, and seeing these familiar, impacting sights which have largely inspired the thinking and concept behind my collection

Many thanks to my model Anita Harasymiw for doing a brilliant job!

Here are just a few of the photographs:

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Statement of Practice

As part of the Context 6 module I was required to write a Statement of Practice to accompany my degree show and justify my final collection to both the examiner and my lecturers. Reflecting on a year long, rather complex project in just 2 sides was a challenging task, however I feel I explained the thinking and reasoning behind my project in a professional, appropriate manner. It felt appropriate that I post my statement here also, to allow those interested to gain a deeper understanding of my project:

 Flora and Fauna

The collection ‘Flora and Fauna’ is directly inspired by strong visual and symbolic elements within nature. Initially the project involved studying flora typically found in the countryside or garden and researching their meanings through reading books such as; ‘The Language of Flowers: Symbols and Myths’ and ‘Flower Power: The Meaning of Flowers in Art’ , however as the project developed books such as ‘Nature and its Symbols’ and ‘The Medieval Flower Book’ became essential to developing an in depth understanding of the historical context and deep rooted symbolism of flowers. This led to the project strongly focusing upon medieval art and historically significant flora and fauna.

Both fine art and historical context have played an integral role in the development of the collection and the direction which it has taken. Pre-Raphaelite artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and Edward Burne-Jones have influenced my chosen style and themes, inspiring me to embrace their ‘truth to nature’ ethics, and the Religious imagery within their work. The combination of religion/philosophy and nature is both an aesthetic and contextual element within the project. Historically symbolic flora and fauna have been intentionally used to subversively question the contemporary interpretation of ‘Sin’ and ‘Virtue’ and how relevant it is within modern society.

Ecclesiastical art became deeply integrated into the project following visits to the V&A and The Louvre. The gold leaf, deep, aged tones and the often intense use of pattern found within Medieval religious art are obvious influences on the aesthetics of the collection. Halos and intricate dot work became an important visual feature, providing the collection with an archaic, religious edge. Combining religious iconography and nature was an idea derived from medieval manuscripts, and is a unique approach to floral design.

Design inspiration for the collection was drawn from designers such as Jill Stuart, in particular her Autumn/Winter 2011 collection displayed many inspirational elements, including the prolific use of British fauna in a unique fashion and the use of a strong, jewel colour palette.
Alexander McQueen’s Autumn/Winter 2010/2011 collection successfully combines religion, fine art and exquisite gold embellishment and detail within a range of complex garments. This collection has been a significant inspiration during the development of the project, it has strongly influenced the themes, composition and colour palette of a number of the designs.

The colour palette for ‘Flora and Fauna’ is largely derived from traditional stained glass windows, such as those seen in ‘Faith, Hope and Light: The Art of the Stained Glass Window’ and on visits to York Minster and other Christian buildings. The palette reflects the deep, rich tones seen in stained glass and the hint of luminosity which they hold. The aged antique elements are inspired by illuminated medieval manuscripts and heavily gilded ecclesiastical art.

The fabric used has been an essential element of the project. With high quality a major priority, the collection is printed exclusively on silk of varying weights and mixtures. To provide a light weight fabric for scarves and dresses silks such as Habotai and Pongee have been used, while silk cotton and silk viscose sateen provide a slightly heavier alternative, and the devoré fabrics within the collection. All hand printed fabrics have been dyed using Procion MX dyes and use recipes specifically written for the collection.

The collection utilises both digital print and hand methods in an unusual, innovative combination. The high level of detail within the original designs has been maintained through the medium of digital print, while hand processes using illuminating acids, devore and metallic powders have been used to enhance the fabrics produced. These labour intensive methods ensure that the fine art aspect of the project resonates thought out the collection.

As gold leaf and gilding is a strong visual feature in the collection, it was something which was required to look technically accurate, antique and luxurious. After experimentation with metallic foils and pigments, Selectasine metallic powder and binder were chosen as the most visually and texturally successful application of gold. With the ability to be combined at any chosen ratio, Selectacine powders can provide a versatile spectrum of gilding, from subtle to strong, meaning that a variety of effects can be achieved using one product.

Maintaining a high quality finish was an important aspect to consider. Considered embellishment with Miyuki glass beads ensures that quality and a fine finish is achieved across the range of fabrics. Miyuki beads have been specifically chosen as they represent the excellence of innovative Japanese glass bead manufacture, the specialist glazes and size of the beads ensured that they provided complimentary embellishment for the designs.

The rich and elaborate range of fabrics is intended to appeal to a high end fashion market. With large scale bold, impacting prints and exquisite hand details the prints are intended for use on elaborate statement dresses and haute couture with an eccentric twist. The hand rolled silk scarves within the collection are an extravagant approach to an everyday accessory.

The collection is uniform and the varying fabrics successfully complement each other, yet have the varying different appeals. The unique style and approach is recognisable and has achieved successful end results. Further developments to the project could have been further experimentation with scale and the creation of further fabrics using combinations of the same elements already present.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Miyuki Beads

Enhancing my designs with high quality embellishment is something which I am eager to incorporate within my work, as it only serves to enhance the impact and lavish exuberance of my fabrics. As well as hand painting with Selectacine Metallic gold powder, I also chose to hand bead some designs with Japanese glass Miyuki beads, which represent the pinnacle in innovative manufacture and superb craftsmanship.

For more information on these high quality, truly beautiful beads visit the Miyuki website:

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Second Design Seminar

Today was my presentation in the second set of Design Seminars for the year. It was my opportunity to discuss my work with a group of fellow students, explain my concept and how my project had developed and changed since the previous seminar. Since the first Design Seminar my work had become far more ecclesiastically inspired, and my message had become more refined. I demonstrated how religious buildings (such as Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche below) had influenced the aesthetics of my designs and my interpretation of flora and fauna. The slides below represent a brief demonstration of my development from inspiration, to fauna studies and finally a scarf design.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Sanctus Strix

After days of careful, meticulous printing with Illuminate Acids, Discharge and Selecticine metallic powders onto pongee silk (dyed with my own recipes of Procion MX) I now have some finished scarves which I am satisfied with.
The scarves feature my two halo owl designs specially designed for scarves. I combined different techniques in a variety of ways to make each scarf unique, experimenting with layering different chemicals, and using different strengths of discharge to achieve varying effects.

Some images of the scarves so far: