2016 marked the year of taking on a bachelor degree in Textile Design…
My design journey began when I went over to Swaziland for my experiential learning internship, at Coral Stephens Handweaving, in Piggs Peak. It was here that I was introduced to the loom and hand weaving techniques for the first time. The concept of weaving on a loom was the most exciting textile exploration concept, which I couldn’t wait to encounter. As the days went I would spend hours mixing fibres – from cotton to raffia, silk to mohair, trying out various combinations and creating beautiful textile surfaces.
I wanted to stay true to the beauty of authentic handmade textiles and therefore began researching the meanings behind traditional techniques in Africa for my bachelor year.
The motivation to sit for hours and create handmade textiles is a foreign concept for the modern day textile designer. Patience, determination and skill are required in order to maintain the correct tension throughout the woven cloth. I therefore wanted to praise these handmade works and face the challenge of hand weaving wallhangings.
I selected a country that inspired me in this regard, namely Ghana whilst focusing specifically on their weaving and print techniques. Ghanaian textiles display a sense of cultural pride that produce cloth showcasing inner meaning and value. This is highlighted in their Adinkra Symbolism technique, where the symbols are indicative of the belief and value systems of the local people. If one were to visit Ghana, Adinkra is prominent through-out household items, clothing, buildings etc, but will rarely appear in trending fashion items worldwide. Therefore the symbols are only relevant to the Ghanaian culture, where they have incorporated an array of pictorial motifs identifying personal-life experiences.
This inspired me to further my design process in creating meaningful textile surfaces that can be showcased in contemporary household items/interiors. Each motif is unique and creates interest pertaining a unique life experience or lesson.
As my main interest lies in interpreting the ways of traditional hand weaving, I have found Ghana has produced this in the traditional textile cloth of the Kente. It is an integral part to West African culture. The renowned Kente cloth is produced by hand weaving strips on narrow small drag looms. These strips are sewn together and are distinctly recognized by the bright colour combinations, geometric pattern and in some cases Ghanaian symbolic motifs. This inspired me to weave and produce contemporary designs, which are vibrant and include geometric forms and authentic symbolic meanings that I have re-interpreted from Ghana’s traditional textile methods.
Below you will see the journey of my Btech year… I constructed my own wooden frame loom and hand wove 3 large scale wallhangings. Each wall hanging portrays a meaningful message that I took inspiration from traditional Adinkra Symbols which I re-designed and made contemporary.
Hope you enjoy 🙂