Nature Now Symposium

After the Symposium, there was a tour of Te Papa’s textile conservation area. This brocade is from nineteenth century (I think)

Every year the Costume and Textile Association of New Zealand (CTANZ) has a symposium discussing, well, costumes and textiles. This year was ‘Nature Now’, looking at the massive resource that nature provides for both physical resources and inspiration.

Unluckily for me, I had a cold then and got another one soon after, so I’ve been a bit remiss in writing this up! Rather than summarise the Symposium itself, I’m going to point you in the direction of some of the awesome work the presenters are doing.

Elaine Ng Yan Ling – The Fabrick Lab

This is one talented, smart, driven individual. Elaine is a materialologist or smart materials artist or a techno fairy – there’s really no word for her combination of textiles, technology and close observation of the natural world.

Elaine has created textiles that respond to environmental factors, like heat, humidity, or light, much like plants do. In the video below, there’s no wind blowing the textile about – it’s moving on its own.

These ideas were taken a step further in her collaboration with Swarovski. Given a very broad brief, Elaine chose to look at sundews (spectacular carnivorous plants) and created these sculptures that react to noise.

The long ‘lines’ in the sculptures above are woven copper wires with triangles made out of crystals – a sample of which was pass around the audience (every textile talk should come with things you can touch!)IMG_20160707_102319

More recently, Elaine has collaborated (and she stressed that it was a collaboration) with villagers in Guizhou, South China. She’s hoping to establish a business model that allows villagers to maintain their inherited skills, express their creativity and maintain their way of life.

One seriously multi-faceted woman, learn more about her work here.

Holly McQuillan – Make/Use

Holly McQuillan is a fashion designer and researcher with a focus on sustainable design. She’s a member of the Make/Use team, a project/movement that explores how zero waste clothing might be better for us as human beings as well as for the environment.

One of the results of Make/Use’s work is an interesting template system for people to make their own clothes. The template uses all of the fabric, fitting to the width and folding, rather than cutting, to make the shapes.

Two of their pieces can be seen in the video below:

You can see more of their clothing here. I think I’ll give the kimono-style wrap dress a go.

Claire Regnault – Te Papa

Claire gave an excellent talk on the jewellery of Jane Dodd. Jane creates jewellery of animals in unusual ways and Claire is currently studying the people who purchase and wear Jane’s sometimes confronting artworks. More of Claire’s work can be seen here.

Source: Jane Dodd’s website.

Christine Brimer – Niche Textile Studio

Christine gave a talk that I felt very connected to. Her design thesis examined the idea of comfort and what it is that makes us feel comfortable. She took this beyond the idea of warm fluffy things, exploring ideas such as how hard sand, when moulded to the body, can produce support and thus comfort. Further, Christine discussed hills and mix of shelter/views that they provide which is comforting to her. I must agree – since being back in Wellington, I felt very sheltered by the surrounding hills, yet the ability to still be able to see across the harbour and down the Hutt Valley gives a feeling of freedom. It’s very comforting after flat, view-less Melbourne!

Christine then took these ideas and applied them to one of the most comfortable home items of all – woollen cushions made from the fleece of coloured sheep!

Source: Niche Textile Studio

Learn more about Christine’s work here.

Next year

There were many other interesting talks, but unfortunately not everyone had easy-to-share content on the web and I didn’t take the best of notes (or any notes). I certainly be going next year – rumour has it the Symposium will be in Hamilton around May.

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