International Women’s Day

Cardiff Met, and especially the Textile courses, celebrated the International women’s day by inviting a few speakers to talk about what that represents in terms of global awareness of the women’s condition both in Middle East and in the Western reality:

Alumnus Alex Wall for Xandra Jane who decided young to start her own business based on sustainable design where nothing is wasted;

Jo Perrin, volunteer for Vintage Vision, a non profit social enterprise run by women that develop projects around vintage fashion from donated clothes and resell them together with the history and the emotions they bring along from their previous owners. Their approach is based on promoting the recycling and re-use of clothing and textiles;

Jean Jenkins, senior lecturer in employment research in Cardiff Met. Her research is based on the women’s work conditions in the garment industry, mostly in Middle East. Pubblications here.

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As Jenkins’s research shows, while tailoring was mostly a male occupation, with the beginning of the mass manufacturing it arrived to be today a mostly women’s occupation (80%).

While in UK women’s rights became equal as men’s from the ’70, that doesn’t apply to the Eastern countries like Bangladesh, India and Cambodia, to name a few, where work conditions are still very poor and where most of the international well-known brands are manufacturing their garment careless of that reality. A reality where the vulnerable labor sector (mostly young and female) are forced to work within closed factories without the possibility to leave, often without water, proper rest, toilets and for 11/12 hours a day. The lack of a proper Health and Safety Policy and the local police forces that stand up in defense of the factory owners instead of the workers led in time to numerous cases of building crashes and thousands of deaths.

Considering as well that ‘THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS SECOND ONLY TO OIL FOR HOW POLLUTING IT IS TO OUR ENVIRONMENT’ as sustained by Alex in her website, we can only assume that this is the top of the iceberg and begin to wonder what’s actually behind our branded clothes and the real industry behind our textiles.

We as individuals, and most of all as designers/creatives have to become more aware and create awareness, research about the materials we use and how these can influence the life of the garment and of our environment ones it’s disposed of. Question the provenience of our clothes as well as our food and everything we come in contact with during our day to day life. So where does my t-shirt comes from, who made it and how much was he/she payed if I only bought it for 2£ and in what conditions did he/she worked for me to wear it?

One of the speakers said, with my big surprise I have to admit, that the boycotting of a label is not the answer, that by doing so we take the work away of the poor workers. That we should only ask that label to provide information from where does my garment comes from. But if we continue to buy from them anyway how do we prevent those worker from being enslaved? Why should the label begin to care about it if the income continues to be the same and they didn’t care in the first place anyway?

I bring here the most exhaustive definition of boycotting I could find, not in the Oxford or Cambridge dictionaries which I found reductive, but in the Italian Wikipedia one: ‘The boycott is an individual or collective action which aims to isolate, obstruct and / or modify the activity of a person, or that of a group of people, a company or an entity or even a State, as it was considered not conform to the principle or the universal rights or social conventions’

I conclude saying how much I appreciate my tutor’s involvement in creating awareness among us while i discovered it’s not a common use in all universities. I definitely have a different mind set, even thought I always tried to waste as less as possible and doing my best to make the difference, or at least to do my part in terms of sustainability and work ethics of the factories I come in contact with during my career.

Field project: Ducati

The Ducati Monster, in all of his versions, is one of Women’s favorite Motorbikes as sustained by this interesting article by Genevieve Schmitt, one of the leading experts on the subject of women and motorcycling.

Ducati Monster Inspiration:

A Mirror article of the Ducati Monster 1200 voted in 2013 at the International Motorcycle Show as the ‘Most Beautiful Bike of Show’:

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A new collaboration between Ducati and Diesel brought the concept and design of Motorcycles even further with the Ducati Diavel Diesel from where I choose the brown leather and its variation to create some of my final pieces. As stated by the Ducati Diesel team ‘The inspiration for their work is an imaginary post-apocalyptic and retro-futuristic world with a hyperkinetic vitality’:

All of which I brought in my stitching and laser cutting/engraving work:

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Mothers of Africa – textiles charity project

Mother’s of Africa is a medical educational charity, found by Professor Judith Hall in 2004, that trains midwives and medical staff in general in sub-Saharan Africa, to provide care for mothers during pregnancy and childbirth. The World Health Organisation sustains that every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, more than half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.

My teacher Maggie Cullinane decided to take part of it on a voluntary basis in 2012, at first providing a couple of hoodies for the 33 miles sponsored walk, an average distance a woman in Africa would make on foot, to get to medical help when pregnant. After realizing the situation there and remembering  her difficult pregnancy that probably wouldn’t have had a happy ending if it took place in Africa, she felt she had to do more. She then decided to resurrect a past fundraising project which had involved students and friends being sponsored to create fabric squares, which then made up into a quilt, and Mothers of Africa Sponsored Quilt Project was born.

And I’m proud to say that the Textiles course of Cardiff Met is since then active part of the project, selling ruffle tickets and organizing small events to raise money. Money that I’m sure where they end up since Maggie has an active and direct contact with the local project in Africa. Just some months ago they finished building a school!

1 Year Textiles 2017 Quilt:

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My class was divided in 4 groups, each named by an important city in which the project operates and came up with different ideas to involve people in the charity. The fundraising was fun, my group decided to make eyebrow threading and henna painting and besides doing my part for a good cause I discovered a new way to express myself.

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Curiosity – A video of a childbirth in Africa, with their traditional midwife:

Denim hexagons with Aisha


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The hexagon project was a really quick and fun way to put together creativity and team work within a short deadline ready to challenge our immediate capacity of responding to a task.

  1. Groups of two people, one hexagon each to start with for 20 minutes and then swap them to continue on the others work for other 20.
  2. Assemble the hexagons randomly on the wall close to one another and the result still makes me smile.

It’s a good way to realize that even if given same materials, from the moment we let our own creativity flow, it can only end up in as many different forms of expressions as the people who took part of it.

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London Textile Fair 11,12 Jan 2017

London’s biggest textile fair! This edition focused on Spring/Summer 2018 pre-collection and Autumn/Winter highlights presented by around 430 exhibitors from a wide number of nations, mostly from: Italy,  United Kingdom, Portugal, France, Turkey and Spain. But also from: Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Ireland, Egypt, Japan, Greece, Germany, United States, Czech Republic, China, Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia, India and Mexico.

The January edition closed with a very positive result. See report here.

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A huge variety of fabrics adorned the space in an explosion of colours: woven, jerseys, jacquards, silks, woollens, synthetics, prints, outwear, active wear, sports wear, organic, technical and lace. And I just passed my fingers through all this samples for hours and i just couldn’t have enough.

I’ve learned that the minimum order goes around 300-500 m in most cases, in others even 1000 m, and just very few of them go down from 100 m.

Curiosity: Most of the exhibitors didn’t have problems with me taking pictures, but some of them, mostly from Spain, but also Turkey and France, were very strict in denying it. This exhibitors, or the agent/s that represented them, wouldn’t advertise any piece of the new collection on the web in order to protect their designs, so the fair is actually the only place where anyone can see them. Second of all, it happily surprised me the reaction of some exhibitors seeing my student badge. They were asking what i was studying and answering gently to all my curiosities. One of them even decided to explain in detail a technique they used to make a floral jacquard fabric.

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These are the 4 SS18 Trends by Patternbank.com:

Warped ‘Materials take on a technical and optical visual look.. Here surfaces are brought to life with abstract structure and warped 3D Techniques’

Dark Neon ‘Summer looks to a darker, neon injected aesthetic in this update on the iridescent trend. Metallic and fancy colour effects have a slight eighties look with powerful hyper real visual’

Future Craft ‘In this artisan focused trend we look towards innovative, future forms of craftsmanship. Here a fusion of cultures from the east to the west, blend together in this textural crafted trend’

Eastern Exotic ‘Decoration and embellishment is celebrated in this exotic materials trend, inspirations come from exploring India’s rich past. Here vintage exported textiles are given a twist with a vibrant colour palette to add a summer fizz’

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Photography Competition

Mid – November landscape. Title: ‘Think big, dream far’                                                                     Entered the competition end of November! 3..2..1.and the winner is…. ME and I just couldn’t believe it!!! An unexpected satisfaction

I started to have more confidence with photography in the last few months mostly after photographer Diwan Manna payed us a visit in Cardiff Met at the beginning of November 2016 talking about the importance of clarity in the goals we want to achieve and the medium of experimentation that will lead us there. Later that month my teachers talked about the beauty of nature in one lesson and i liked the warmth i felt when Keireine said that autumn is her favorite season and that it would be interesting to observe how the same spot changes with the seasons. I also had a vision of a tree which I repeatedly reproduced in a few workshops and different media. And this beautiful landscape is my way to uni every morning. Static and in continuous transformation giving new shapes and colors at every breeze. I just couldn’t not capture it anymore and I’m so HAPPY i did.

First Presentation

Since the beginning of the course I have undertaken an exploratory path where every technique was a new experience and adventure.

Printing and stitching were completely new to me, while drawing and even mark making were on a much higher level than I ever practiced before. While working on them, I started to have more confidence and self-awareness and I began to face my potential and my weaknesses.

The wire workshop and the hand book making gave me a taste of ‘Field’ and before me started to unfold a world of possibilities that make me more enthusiastic for the things to come.

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Stitching, Dyeing, Heat printing, Hand book making and wire workshop. Mark making and drawing

Neo- Futurism (Constellation yr 1)

1909 –  Neo-Futurism begins with the first manifesto published on the 20 February 1909 by the Italian  Marinetti on a Parisian newspaper ‘Le Figaro’ arguing the need to get rid of the past and embrace the future in everything that surrounds us.

Marinetti exalts the beauty of speed (cars, airplanes…), the love of danger and fearlessness, the courage and audacity in poetry, art and architecture. Museums and schools should be buried as well as everything related to the past and permit the new generations express themselves on the heels of what technology can give. To evolve and not remain stagnant.

I recommend a view of Marinetti’s most famous poem, the  Zang Tumb Tumb  and it’s particularly interesting and onomatopoeic interpretation.

1914 –  In 1914, Sant’Elia, profoundly influenced by Marinetti’s Manifesto and in the same year the two of them met, decided to publish his Manifesto of Futuristic Architecture. He considered that the modern architect has to revolution his way of creating, use more curves rather then lines. No decoration and more efficiency. Buildings have to be functional rather then aesthetically sought.

‘The new beauty of cement and iron are profaned by the superimposition of motley decorative incrustations that cannot be justified either by constructive necessity or by our (modern) taste’ – Sant’Elia

2016 – Some astonishing architecture from Zaha Hadid here:

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A floating city concept by architect Vincent Callebaut:

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Reflections:

  • If all in a sudden our mind was erased of the past would we be creating futuristic buildings for our homes and airplanes for our displacements or would we be cutting a tree and a stone to build a wheel and a tent?
  • We all grow up developing our thoughts based on habits and knowledge that already exists.
  • Futurism enhances courage and rebellion but how can they exist if not in function of something pre-existent and ‘common’?

Conclusions

Premising the amazingly open minded Manifesto both of Marinetti and of his friend Sant’Elia, I find their extreme reaction to be based upon the historical moment of their times (Decadentism) which shows us in first place how they were firstly and deeply influenced by their past.

Decoration was an element of Decadentism and so they decided to erase it. I think not because of it’s ‘useless function’ by itself but because it represented the somnolence and stagnation of a nation who preferred escaping the present finding refugee in the aesthetics instead of rolling up their sleeves and act. But aesthetics is part of every aspect of our life. In every object or piece of cloth we buy both because we want to look stylish or because we ‘don’t care’. Either way it’s a choice, as well as the choice not to choose.

We are intimately and intricately connected to our past. That’s the place we borrowed our knowledge and experience from. That’s how we learn to know what works and what doesn’t, what makes us save time or make a certain choise. The past is an inevitable element which we can only build upon but not erase.

Neo-Futuristics found a quick and easy solution in erasing and rebuilding rather then learning from the past, keeping it’s merits and changing or improove it’s demerits.

Balance is the missing piece to Marinetti and Sant’Elia’s Manifesto!

The Collection Series Finale (Subject yr 1)

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Created by Oliver Goldstick ‘The Collection’ is a Franco-Welsh series co-produced by Amazon and BBC . It’s an 8 part fashion drama set in Paris after the Second World War of 1947 and shot in Wales thanks to the Welsh government which, citing Selwyn Roberts words from the Q&A session, it helped enormously funding the production.

Starring: Richard Coyle, Tom Riley, Mamie Gummer, Max Deacon, Jenna Thiam, Frances de la Tour.

Maison Sabine is run by two brothers, Paul Sabine (Richard Coyle) very good in business and head of the fashion house, Claude Sabine (Tom Riley) the most talented but who leaves in the shadow of his brother, and their mother. Internal rivalries, betrayals and a thriller element arouses interest in the public while the outfits and haute couture dresses seem to take the stage from the main characters, at least for those particularly interested in fashion and textiles.

Q&A with Kate Croft (Producer), Selwyn Roberts (Producer) and Dearbhla Walsh (Lead Director) in conversation with Natasha Hale:

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The aim of the cast was to recreate the authenticity of the Paris post war period, especially regarding the outfit. Therefor a 10 people team worked night and day for 14 weeks producing outfits each with unique designs while others came from London, Paris and Rome reaching a total number of 1200 pieces.

I think that the series it’s a real value for those interested in the postwar period and relative costumes and I’m happy I could attend the preview of the Finale (Cardiff – 20/10/16) before it’s showcase on Amazon.

Enjoy!

An inspirational walk – Cardiff Arcades (Subject yr 1)

Pad Deco Boutiquelamps

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Artist – Kerrie Brown

Cardiff is also known as the ‘City of arcades’for the highest number of indoor shopping arcades in the whole UK (total length of 797m, 2,655 ft.). The style is mostly Victorian and Edwardian, it feels like stepping back in time. Inside, you can walk around a wide variety of shops. Due to my interest of study, one has caught my attention in particular, the Pad Deco Boutique. It is known to exhibit artisan-made products and fabulous home interiors made by well-known or emerging artists selected from all around the world.

When I walk through the city center (or wherever I am actually), I find it inevitable to stop at every step just to refresh my eyes with other artists work. And it’s everywhere, in a painting, a dress or a little brick in the wall, the list is endless. In this case, I found inspiration in three artists.

  • Kerrie Brown with her colorful and sophisticated pillows. I admire how she was able to maintain a sense of fun touch.
  • Missoni is an eternal classic which inspires every year with its distinctive style of a bold combination between stripes and colours.
  • Last but not the least, the vibrant and exotic fabrics from Swarm Design, from which I could’t take my eyes off, wondering about the colour palette and the way he might have used photoshop. A great result for the tropical trend.
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Artist – Missoni
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Artist – Swarm Design