The Story of a Scarf
Edit: Scarves are now available to purchase here, with free shipping to the UK.
I’ve always wanted to see my artwork on fabrics, and a functional usable product. I think art has the role of not just being in frames and on gallery walls, but quite the opposite – part of everyday life, making a statement. Traditional craft meant a combination of the art and product; that everyday usable things from cutlery to clothing were not only handcrafted, but made with the utmost devotion to detail, design and beauty. Of course, this also takes into account things like wealth and privilege, but something that’s undeniable about the traditional way of making is that it was sustainable; products were made from local materials and resources, and recycled and upcycled to reduce wastage. And whilst that sounds idealistic, it is something that I would like to work towards. Ethical fashion, made in the UK, made with resources that are, at this point, as traceable as possible. To me, that means that whoever worked on these scarves was paid decently, and worked in comfortable conditions with health and safety procedures in place.
My process starts with my idea and what I’m inspired by. For this initial collection, I wanted to stay quite close to Islamic geometric patterns, and the nature we see around us and live through. The two have an undeniable interconnectedness, and in this country we can’t deny the daily effect the seasons have on us. This was something I wanted to experiment with, and also explore the construction and deconstruction, life and decay that we see around us and experience in an urban environment.
When designing, I use pencils, paper, compass and ruler. I draw up the designs by hand, which is fairly time consuming and requires a degree of quiet and concentration on my part! I then trace them, keeping the bits I want and ignoring those I don’t, (again, more concentration!) and if the pattern is to be painted, I transfer it to watercolour paper with either loose pigment powder or chalk pastels. Yes there is a lot of tracing involved, but it does in a funny way mean getting up close and personal with the design. Even though it’s been drawn out by hand from the beginning, it means I get to know every discrepancy, every perceptible inaccuracy, every facet of symmetry, and try and forgive what I feel are my mistakes and make them part of the journey.
Once the design is ready I add some colour, and this could be with watercolour, gouache, pencil, fineliners, ink, dye or pastels. Whilst the lines of the pattern follow quite a strict construction, the way I tend to paint doesn’t too much…there is room for flexibility, experiments, and variation within whatever I am doing.
This is a video of the space where I work, Impact Hub Birmingham. I've been captured painting the above design in the studio space.
The finished painting or drawing is then scanned and if needed, adjusted or repeated on Photoshop. It is then uploaded to a company based here in the UK that digitally prints them onto the fabric. Once I receive them, they are hemmed by a tailor and dressmaker based here in Birmingham. Whilst it’s a lengthy process that could be undertaken at a much cheaper cost by getting the scarves designed on screen and made abroad in places like India and Bangladesh, I’d much rather, as far as I can, keep the economy and industry local, and be able to ensure that everyone who worked on the scarves was treated with respect. In the future, I would love to collaborate with artisans both here and abroad, in places where people aren’t paid properly or allowed to join trade unions, and discover the individual stories and parallel narratives through my work. I’d also like to learn more about the fabrics and fibres themselves, and how they can be sourced sustainably and ethically.
This mini collection will be available to purchase at the launch of El Monet fashion brand, and online thereafter. They are limited edition so if you'd like to reserve one or buy before they go online, please send me an email.
As well as the chance to see the Miss Monet Autumn/Winter collection, we will also present a preview of the Spring/Summer 17 collection, which has been an exciting collaboration between El Monet and myself. We fuse together the contemporary and the traditional, the handmade and the machine, and have come up with something bright and exciting. Tickets are available at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/el-monet-launch-miss-monet-tickets-28764569602. All garments are made in Birmingham. If you are interested in stocking the collection do not hesitate to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
If you are interested in having a bespoke scarf designed and made especially for you, or for someone as a gift, do not hesitate to get in touch. I’d love to work with you and produce something that is beautifully unique and exclusive to you.