BOOKS ARE BEAUTIFUL and I have regarded them as such since long before this project began…
In June 2011, the Northampton Philharmonic Choir performed in a concert entitled ‘Shakespeare, Sonnets, and all that Jazz’ including Shakespeare songs and sonnets by George Shearing and Ralph Vaughan Williams amongst others. Singing and hearing the words of great poets put to music opened my eyes somewhat to their beauty, their complexity, and their ability to create the most vivid imagery in one’s imagination.
A visit to London over the summer took me to various independent book shops around the city. The attraction of such shops is that they seem to appreciate the beauty and preciousness of books. Upon returning and reflecting on what I had seen, I recognised that my fascination with books, and new found appreciation for poetry would provide wonderful inspiration for my project.
Research and development included experimentation with paper, particularly old pages from books. I began to dissect poems, interpreting the rhythms of the words in visual formats. I became fascinated by the layers of poems by Shakespeare, Keats, Wordsworth and others; the way the lines built upon one another gradually creating intricate scenes within the mind of the reader. The appearance of the books themselves provided inspiration, particularly older books. The crumpled paper of the pages, dog eared corners of covers, exposed stitching and the intricate decoration of the spines all inspired my subsequent drawings and paintings. It was important for me to capture the essence of the books. Imagery seemed to be contained within the literature, which itself was encased between the pages of the books.
I experimented with the idea of layering, taking away parts of the fabric using the laser cutter and the devoré technique, and building layers and texture upon the surface through appliqué and flock. Colours are muted, neutral, off-white tones, with flashes of brown and terracotta, taken from my photography. The essence of the collection is its simplicity. Basic dress shapes act as canvases for the surface designs, raw edges imitate worn, aged paper, laser-cut fabric curls and falls replicating peeling covers and spines.
The aim was to produce quality, thoughtful designs that evoked the same curiosity as the books, through the use of muted tones and subtle pattern. The collection is sensuous, with a variety of textures and different weights of fabric ranging from suede to chiffon.
As a designer I seek to create pieces that provoke feeling. I hope with this project to capture a feeling of calmness and serenity, whilst encouraging inquisitiveness and intrigue.
— John Keats