Over the next few weeks, I plan to share some of the stories behind my collections. I know that I’m always interested to read about creative processes and where inspiration comes from so I hope others might find my process interesting too!
I’m starting with my Earthbound collection which I launched in January ‘19 at Top Drawer. This collection currently has three broad themes all inspired by nature; sea, hill and seed. I wanted to create designs that could be applied to a range of products and potentially textiles in the future. First up, I’m going to talk through the ‘seed’ design.
When I first started to consider this collection, I wanted to capture how inspiring I find nature. I love the outdoors and whenever I manage to spend a proper amount of time outside, I always come back with creative ideas – whether it be on a beach collecting shells, walking through a forest and looking up or walking up a hill and being completely present (in the physical exertion and views of scenery). I wanted my designs to capture these feelings of exploration, motivation, escapism, intrigue and wonder. I also wanted to explore pairing words with visuals to give my designs another dimension. My Mum has always been a fabulous wordsmith and I talked to her about some of these early ideas – at this point, they were feelings as opposed to ideas for designs. As we talked things through, we agreed that some poetry pieces might work well in the designs.
I asked Mum if she could chip in here:
When Kate asked if I would like to contribute words for her Earthbound series, I was delighted to. Kate wanted to develop a range of items that were based on aspects of the natural world, potentially for people living in the urban world. We talked about a range of themes, and discussed the following: plants, water and landscapes. Kate wanted to marry words and images that would stimulate creativity, perhaps in notebooks that could be carried in the pocket, on walks in the park, or further afield. Or even afloat…
Starting with the plant / growth theme. We discussed potential poetry forms and decided that a kenning might be a good starting point for some of her work. A kenning is described as a two word phrase instead of a noun – a metaphor. Unlike haikus, kennings are very flexible in nature, a little like plants! In ‘Seed’, I wanted to convey how that tiny form contains life, and, through the telling of the poem, the process of unfolding, growth, maturity and, ultimately the circularity of life. So, our ‘tiny-dreamer’, deep within the earth, pushes toward the light, and emerges as a ‘green-peeper’. I wanted the kenning to convey a sense of time, so, rather than thinking about an annual plant, such as a sunflower, I thought an apple tree might be apt. This was partly because, at the time of writing, I’d just planted a new crab-apple tree in the garden, and partly because my previous home had been surrounded by apple orchards. I’d seen how newly planted trees grow quickly, with frothy blossoms and developing heartwood. I’d seen how experienced apple farmers identified the fruit by looking at all parts of the tree, the bark, the leaves, and, on cutting open an apple, the patterns of pips, those tiny dreamers. Kate’s image of an unfurling fern frond is beautifully fresh and hopeful. An optimistic beginning for any creative project, whether in words or images.
When I read Mum’s kenning, I immediately had visions for this design. I wanted to convey all of the optimism, opportunity and feelings in colour and form. I loved designing the abstract leaves and incorporating the unfurling frond design in the artwork.
The seed artwork very much set the tone for the rest of the collection. I was very deliberate in the weighting of the shapes, the colour palettes and dynamism as I worked on all three artworks. I’m looking forward to telling you about ‘sea song’ and ‘hill’ in the next few weeks.
Working in collaboration with Mum on these pieces gave me a huge insight in the potential that collaboration can offer. Marrying poetry with visual design felt so natural and made me think outside the box. I would really encourage other creatives to explore this opportunity!
The poetry pieces are currently integrated in an A3 art print and will soon be available as postcards and greeting cards. The frond design also features on giftwrap in two colour palettes; summer and autumn. All available here.
(Please see my Pinterest board which I used to gather visual inspiration at the start of the project.)