Tracy Lynch, Interior Decorator & Stylist
Last year in our final Trend Talk session of 2012, we were very fortunate to have stylist Tracy Lynch talk to us about the increasing popularity of tapestry trends. In two week’s time you will be able to visit Tracy’s stand at the Decorex Expo Cape Town, which will be taking place at the CTICC (please see the invite at the bottom of today’s post for details of the event). Because of this, we thought it the perfect time to share with our readers what Tracy presented in her talk – which is great news for those of you who missed it, and also gives those of you planning to attend the expo, a bit of a taste of what you can expect to see! We hope you enjoy.
Athi-Patra Ruga was born in Umtata, South Africa in 1984. He lives and works in both Johannesburg and Cape Town. His work is the exploration of the border-zones between fashion, performance and contemporary art; he makes work that exposes and subverts the body in relation to structure, ideology and politics.
Bursting with eclectic multicultural references, carnal sensuality and a dislocated undercurrent of humour, his performances, videos, costumes and photographic images create a world where cultural identity is no longer determined by geographical origins, ancestry or biological disposition – a utopian counter-proposal to the sad dogma of the division between mind and body, sensuality and intelligence, pop culture, craft and fine art.
Tapestry Trends: Athi Patra
When discussing his early work, Athi Patra says he believes that the work developed out of a need to illustrate arguments about the body in the form of craft work (as it is process-based). This requires discipline, and the body plays a big part in realising this discipline. A form of disembodiment befalls one’s senses when they don’t pay attention to the process of things – how things are done. He says people eat sushi without fully grasping the process (of preparing it); people rob people without knowledge of how things are acquired… Patra feels that ‘making, and being conscious of making, is a discipline.’
Tapestry Trends: Lauren Fowler
Lauren Fowler is a graphic designer and illustrator living in Cape Town. Lauren says she took up craft to pass the time while working in a boutique shop; she started with knitting and making little felt brooches. Over time, they were featured in a couple of magazines.
Lauren was inspired by her involvement in an exhibition called Hoop. Cross-stitch is often seen as a forgotten art and although she didn’t create a piece using cross-stitch for the exhibition, she had all her hoops left over… So, she tried her hand at cross-stitch and was immediately addicted (and still is!)
Her cross-stitch pieces are contemporary; she has tried to use some sweet “tried and tested” ones – such as “home is where the heart is” – but also “Home Sweet F***en Home”, which has been very popular. But most of the time she just writes “RAD”.
Tapestry Trends: Dolce & Gabbana Milan Fashion Week AW 2013
Dolce & Gabbana have been able to create a very definite look to call their own over their 27-year history. The design duo’s ability to transform classic items into modern fashion statements, that are intrinsically linked to their brand, is limitless.
The custom of embroidering fabric with precious materials such as gems and gold is ancient. Ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Mongolian embroidered fabrics survive today and give us a glimpse into the long heritage of this luxurious craft. The practice of embroidery spread far and wide, ranging from princely renaissance gowns to intricate Indian saris. The romantic element of the collection is embodied in the needlepoint roses. Applied on lace and chiffon, this ancient craft, which decorated parlours and grand halls, was masterfully transformed in this Milan Fashion Week AW 2012 collection.
In keeping with Dolce & Gabbana’s ability to revisit ancient crafts and make them covetable to the modern consumer, embroidery has become an increasingly important aspect of the brand’s DNA.
Embroidery is a strong fashion trend this season; it is mixed with transparent fabrics for a modern take on a classic craft. A tulle top with a needle-point bib matched to a lace skirt with laser-cut, waxed satin micro flowers, embraces the traditional and the innovative. Keeping hand embroidery alive is the Royal School of Needlework; it is unique in the field of hand embroidery and has a wealth of experience and expertise accumulated over more than 130 years.
Tapestry Trends: Charlotte Lancelot Canvas Collection
I couldn’t resist including these beautiful images. These are no doubt a familiar product and definitely one of my favourite examples of designer eye candy. They are the seductive work of Charlotte Lancelot – a Belgium designer whose charming cross-stitch-inspired Canvas Collection forms part of the Spanish brand, Gan Rugs. The Collection is composed of rugs, cushions and modular or soft poufs.
Then I found these images… Embroidery is very exciting right now, and Lithuanian artist Severja Incirauskaite darns yarn like no other. Her work involves cross-stitching domestic, metal objects such as pans, watering cans, spoons and even car doors. Integrating traditional elements from her Lithuanian heritage, Severija manages to turn a simple idea into something beautiful. She mixes pop culture with traditional craft and technique. The artist’s work is about making something extraordinary out of something ordinary.
Tapestry Trends: Severja Incirauskaite Cross Stitch
Her work is inspired by everyday surroundings and everyday life. Objects from everyday life installations become extraordinary. Utilitarian objects lose their function and become art objects, which tell us different stories about our lives. The artist says that extraordinary situations are not what appeals to her; she likes everyday life. She says people often think that a situation like a wedding or exotic travel are most important in their lives, but she says the opposite is true: everyday life is more important because it unites all of our lives.
The embroidery patterns are mass patterns taken from different women’s hobby magazines. This is an attempt at breaking down traditional hierarchies of art; it is an attempt by the artist to try to bring art close to people, and it is this reason that inspires the artist to use popular craft techniques in professional art.
In some of her works like “Between City and Village” or the “Autumn” Collection, the intersection points between village and urban culture are explored. Cross-stitching and Lithuanian flowers are combined to make reference to nostalgia and simpler times. The love of simple things is a key inspiration. She says, “My embroidery is not décor for things. Every time embroidery appears on different object, it tells a different story, transmitting to the viewer – a different message.”
The issue of whether the status of craft skills has shifted is a relevant conversation for this artist and the artist I will introduce to you next.
Being taken seriously in the art world while using materials or techniques traditionally associated with craft is challenging. There is, however, a growing number of museums devoted to showcasing this work such as the Fuller Craft museum in Massachusetts, and the Museum of Art and Design in New York; this shows an increasing respect and integration of craft and art. There is a transition from an era when these skills were valued in a particular way because of their everyday usefulness, to being valued in a very different way for their beauty, craftsmanship and concept.
Tapestry Trends: Frédérique Morrel Tapestry Taxidermy
Tapestries and needlework haven’t always had the coolest reputation but recently they’ve had a revival. One of the best examples of this revival in the decorative arts comes from designer Frédérique Morrel who works with her husband Aaron Levin and creates beautiful animal sculptures and pieces of furniture by recycling vintage tapestries. Morrel was troubled by the fact that her grandmother’s needlework was discarded when she passed away, so Frederique has since been obsessed with the idea of making them come back to life and re-injecting value into these lost artefacts.
There seems to be an air of nostalgia to Morrel’s work; it reminds us of a forgotten craft with undertones of the natural world. She, however, says it’s not nostalgia but rather a way of reminding us of something that we have forgotten, like popular beliefs, or the control we can have on our craft when things are done by hand.
Frédérique Morrel is an artist; this is a piece from an installation called “In Bed With?” – installed at the White Hotel in Brussels – part of collaboration with Galerie Libertine in 2011.
I was recently approached by the founders of Lusso. Lusso is a small company which brings unusual hand-crafted decorative items to South Africa. They invited me to help curate and promote the pieces they love. I was more than eager, as my love of beautiful objects – which have history and are made with passion – is no secret!
My first project with Lusso was a trip to Maison to meet with Aaron Levin and Frederique Morrel. I asked if I could visit their studio, and, much to my delight, they invited me to their apartment. The following pictures I took are of the space where they live…
People like to donate their deceased family members embroidery pieces; these two portraits are of donors holding the precious gifts. They want the pieces to be immortalised as artworks, and believe that Morrel’s works offer this opportunity.
Morrel consciously set out to re-establish the link between art and the hand-made with her creations. It’s one of the questions that really interest her: how the different disciplines of art, craft and design rub against each other, interact, overlap. Morrel has a close connection to the Arts and Crafts movement; her intention is to try to give value to something that has been made with the intelligence of the hand.
I ended my visit with a peep into the intimate studio. I loved all the secret dialogues between the unusual collections and creatures. The making process involves an initial tapestry hunting exercise, as only vintage material is used.
The next step is to think about the story that the subject tells her. Morrel then works on the expressions with special attention to personal details like the antlers. After that, she chooses the tapestries so that they tell a story; but similar to a painter, she uses the tapestries like different colours of paint. She says that the tapestry is like a virtual picture: one stitch is like one pixel; once all this is decided, the subject is fully reborn.
This year’s installation at Maison did not disappoint… Here are pictures of all the characters that made up the installation.
When asked if mass production is design’s downfall, Morrel replies that if you consider an individual to be simply part of a mass, then yes – it is the death of the individual identity; so the problem is not the death of design, but the death of the individual. Popular tapestries were a mass product, with popular themes that are cliché. But each woman puts something of herself into it, and invests her love and craftsmanship into it. So, in a sense, it’s a good mixture between mass production and individualization.
Another question Morrel has been asked is whether she feels art or design has to have a purpose, or if it can it be done just for fun? Her response was that every thing has a function, but it is not necessarily a practical one. If you consider her work as design, then it’s ‘idea design’. It is useful to one’s life to have emotion and to stimulate creativity. She says, “If it’s art, then the function is to be contemplated and to convey an aesthetic emotion. Art is more sensitive, design is more conceptual.” When asked about future projects, she responds: “My future project? Re-creation! Have fun while creating again.”
Morrel’s Collection features a variety of sculptures that resemble the hunting trophies traditionally associated with taxidermy. However, Morrel describes them as friends of the family and living creatures that have poked their heads through the wall to share their stories with us. Morell says, “In the beginning, my inspiration was to take animals that were represented in the tapestries. The most common one is the deer. Most animals say something symbolically that is meaningful for humans. The deer, for example, is a symbol of regeneration, the possibility to pass from one world to another in a single bound.” The deer is one example of the many creatures she creates. Rabbits, foxes, wild boar, horses and wolves also feature. The collection is endless.