I’ve spent many months working on a new pattern collection and will be launching it at Tent London at London Design Festival this September. I’ve kept any signs of the design development away from social media until now, but here’s a couple of the patterns from the ‘construct’ collection. I shall write more about the ideas behind the collection in due course.

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I’ve been out in the ‘real world’ so to speak for nearly twenty years, and while I found that such a scary idea during my time at art college, having little idea of what I really wanted to do, now I realise it’s okay.  I look back and remember so many exciting things that I’ve been up to and so many great people I’ve worked with that I am grateful for living the portfolio career in art and design.

I made the choice to lead an academic career alongside my own practice and both really support each other. I am sharing and honest in my own learning experiences from industry working across art and design contexts. The students’ creative journeys also inspire the creative investigation in me. We talk of ‘branding’ and ‘professional identities’ in the Second year that I am currently leading in the Textile Design degree course at Birmingham City University, and consider how we and others see us and what we can control and what others interpret. I’m not a corporation or multinational company and yet the word ‘brand’ is commonly used for the self-employed too. Language used in promotional material as well as social media build a story, whether we like the tale or not. Does my design integrity come across? what about my inspiration? is the market level clear?…

I’ve been redesigning my website over the last few months. This is always an opportunity to ask myself more questions, and to reflect on where I’ve come from, where I’ve been and where I plan to go within the world of design, and specifically pattern. I’ve been excited by the process. I’ve chosen headings / page titles that more accurately reflect my current practice and edited substantial information relating to projects of years gone by. I’ve made it more image-based and updated text, again to reflect the shift in my design practice interests. With social media being a really key part of building a ‘brand’ these days this process has been happening as I go, but I’ve finally embraced instagram, having enjoyed Twitter over the last three years.

So, for all the bookbinding workshops I’ve led, the public consultation exercises I’ve participated in, the colours and materials I’ve sourced, the flowers I’ve drawn and the prints that I’ve pulled, this is where I’m at now…

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Despite having lived in Headingley, Oval and near Edgbaston I’m not a great fan of cricket but today I spent a number of hours at Edgbaston, the home of Warwickshire County Cricket Club as they hosted a charity community day. The highlight for me was the arrival of the Red Devils, from the skies in the most fantastic spectacle, bringing the ball for the 20-20 match. The marching band looked fabulous in red to the complimentary green of the grass and I also discovered I have a skill in rifle shooting, so there you go, a surprising day.

I gathered lots of images of patterns too. Here’s the day in grey, green & blue pictures…

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It always takes far longer to prepare for a trade show than it does to be there but I thought I’d show a bit of the journey of my show. Rather substantial worries kicked in the night before when we feared the contents of my stand were not able to be carried by two human beings, and more worryingly, not allowed on the train to London. Somehow we managed what felt like a physical endurance test, in fact it was… and began to make it my home for the next few days. Olympia is a stunning building to spend time in and we got the show up in a few hours, ready for the off… and there was still time to admire the London Underground graphics at Earls Court.

The Plot to Plate collection has grown substantially since its first trip to Olympia when I was showing in the Spotted section, at Top Drawer back in 2012. I am delighted that the new Hanbury and Parterre cushions have been well received by visitors to the show. These are hand screen printed and then sewn in Birmingham by social enterprise Textiles by St. Annes. The patterns are inspired by National Trust’s Hanbury Hall and Gardens, near Bromsgrove. The Hanbury wallpaper was also popular with interior designers visiting the show and Plot to Plate VVV was the most admired of my fabrics. My ‘parterre’ show dress was also much commented upon, with orders keen to be placed!

I was pleased to be an ‘expert pick’ by David Nicholls of House and Garden in the Pulse Preview and also chosen by Trend Bible in the trend section of the show catalogue.

It was also a pleasure to meet ex students of mine, graduating from the Textile Design degree at Birmingham City University, as visitors to the show in their industry roles, and I could still remember their names! How nice of them to say hello and make time to find out what I was up to.

The new friends made of the exhibitors beside me was really special. Such a supportive group of people, helping out, freely sharing trade insights, generally lovely people really helping the show be a great experience. The end of the show, although a welcome relief to the hours of standing (I really couldn’t carry a chair on the train!) was almost a sad time, as we stripped the walls bare, packed up our belongings, said our farewells and left, with the most ridiculous load I ever plan to carry. Maybe I’ll start making paper thimbles!

Thanks to all who visited and thanks to all who helped along the way! Here are the images which represent in some small way the few days at Kensington Olympia, May 2015.

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One of the reasons I love to teach students drawing for textile design is the journey of enlightenment when introducing someone to the world of not only looking, but also of seeing. There are many ways to see when drawing and I’m really interested in the journey from reality to abstraction, whether its a state of mind, a way of transforming or whether it’s a methodical process applied to something in order to arrive at a motif for pattern.

My drawing process has evolved over years of practice but the way that I see is not so different to two decades ago. I remember reading the book ‘Drawing with the Right Side of your Brain’ by Betty Edwards and realising that I already did that and it all made sense. I enjoy playing with perspective, elevation, mapping of whatever it is I’m drawing, whether it’s a landscape or twig. Turning the three-dimensional thing in front of my eyes in to a two-dimensional drawing is always exciting, and challenging, but that’s half the fun. I think the process of printmaking that I further translate my drawings to really suit the clarity of motif dissection, separating colours or specific details on separate blocks or screens for printing for either a limited edition print or commercial textile design.

Each year the pear blossom at the allotment arrives and each year I’m reminded of how perfect they are in all ways. The beautiful petals and the bits I don’t know the names of, all there, waiting to be celebrated in drawing. No doubt Charles Rennie Mackintosh would have made an exquisite watercolour and graphite study. The flowers also remind me of drawings and prints I have made in the past, and not only of blossom, but of flowers that I make diagrammatic in a way to understand and explain the ingredients of the flower. When I discovered the work of Gwen White, and particularly the book ‘A World of Pattern’ I was excited to see someone else communicating what I see and how I translate form to pattern. This method doesn’t suite everybody and it would be a dull world if we all made drawings that looked the same, but every now and then it’s nice to know that my creative brain works like someone else’s brain and that my eyes see what others have seen before me.

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Pear blossom, photograph, Kate Farley

‘Hanbury’ wallpaper, Kate Farley

Passiflora, lino print, Kate Farley

illustrations from Gwen White’s ‘A World of Pattern’ (RH column)

 

I have always felt that one’s upbringing has a huge influence over the aesthetics of that designer. The house, the landscape, the products and fabrics that are present in the early years; everyday things, that at the time may not have been seen as important then can be blamed or celebrated in the later career of artists and designers. No doubt plenty of people would disagree with me, that’s not the point. I can clearly see a link between my own aesthetic, and my upbringing, and I’ve written about it in the past- read here  &  read here

On a trip back to the family home in Norfolk I came across the old games we used to play and was mentally transported back years before, simply by seeing the beautiful graphic qualities, clean lines and visual communication that I hold dear in my own practice. My visual language doesn’t necessarily mimic those designs but it’s more of an approach, a set of values & expectations that I set myself. We can expect things to be very different in the future with such digital aesthetics taking firm hold of so much of every day lives for my children and those of tomorrow. From how we create art and design, to how we view it on screen as well as on fabrics and surfaces much is very different. It is not necessarily a criticism of today, but more an appreciation of the inspiration I had and continue to thrive by. I sincerely hope that there will be art and design education in place over the next few years which will inspire the future textile designers, setting the benchmark for beyond that.

Here’s some of the graphic wonders. Red is a very popular box colour and it’s worth noting that many of the games proudly state they were made in England. Pieces were metal, wooden, proper card, nicely printed and beautifully boxed… there, a bit of nostalgia too! It also might be worth noting that in the ‘careers’ game The Arts was kept firmly in the box while ecology, sports, politics and big business made it on to the cover of the box!

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With the eclipse taking place this week, and the process of archiving lots of my old work also underway I’ve been reminded of an artists book I made to celebrate the solar eclipse that took place in 1999 as well as the total lunar eclipse that took place not long after. ‘Totality’ was made as a photogram, a photographic process blocking out areas of the light from an enlarger, on to a piece of light-sensitive paper. I made drawings of the stages of the eclipses as diagrams on to acetate using a chino-graph pencil that sat on top of a Kentmere photographic paper because it was able to fold without tearing or splitting the coating. It’s a great paper.

The process of the making of the images was completely in line with the concept of the book, blocking out light and revealing light. Light was the subject and medium – I like that simplicity. I had to work in the bathroom of my flat in Camberwell in the middle of the night hoping that the neighbour wouldn’t turn a light on which would shine in to the room and ruin the exposure of each sheet of paper. To make an edition of these books it was a production line of carefully timed stages, as I had to fold the sheets of photographic paper when damp for the cleanest fold in to the concertina structure. This was a project of problem solving but I really enjoyed it. The lunar eclipse is on one side and the solar eclipse is on the other. The slipcase included a cut-out circle in order for the reader to create the image of an eclipse when taking the book from the case. The book is pocket sized, as if it is a useful guide.

I have uncovered the last remaining few so get in touch if you are interested in buying one, £20 each, let me know by email in the first instance: kate@katefarley.co.uk

Enjoy the eclipse on Friday – don’t stare at the sun! I’ll be using a pinhole in paper and hoping for a cloudless day…

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