I have sent two dresses off to an innovative gallery in Ruthin, North Wales. They play a small part of Ptolemy Mann's first solo retrospective. The cornerstone of my Spring Summer 2012 collection is three dresses and a blouse in GOTs certified organic silk satin onto which we printed Ptolemy's new collection of digital prints.
Here is the Nancy Gown in Broadstripe Ikat:
And the Maud day dress in violet feather ikat:
Ptolemy and I met on the Crafted mentoring programme in 2009. Ptolemy, a weaver who graduated from the Royal College of Art, produces woven artwork in the ikat tradition. Whilst drawing on traditional techniques her work is firmly in the contemporary art space. Her work features the use of hand-dyed saturated colour and this has led her to a parallel career as a colour consultant. Strange, one might say, with my undyed tweeds and muted palette that I should work with someone so intensely colour-focused. But, I find myself drawn to colour and technology.
Image courtesy of Ptolemy Mann. Handwoven Ikat.
Ptolemy produced a collection of digital prints from her work. She scanned her original handwoven work and then worked it up using digital techniques so it still has something of the handwoven flavour to it. Initially her work was commissioned for interiors. As well as her website she also write a blog, Significant Colour, which I do recommend. See below an example of the furnishing fabric with her artwork behind:
Image courtesy of Ptolemy Mann
When Ptolemy showed me her swatches I was enthralled - at first not sure how it would fit with my brand. But sometimes, things knock around as images in your visual mind and it comes together. There was something about the feather ikat that really drew me. I found it quite art deco, classic and incredibly chic and interesting. I was at Goodwood Revival and saw a lady wearing the most exquisite vintage dress of 1940s era and it had fine pleats down the centre back and the ideas started coming together. I felt the prints had a timeless quality to them and a movement that would require some kind of structure. The pleats give this movement and angularity, and concentrate the print in sections in an interesting way. Plus it has all those 1940s references I loved.
The Maud dress in the violet feather ikat print, which enthralled me:
I dedicated this collection to Roger Fry's Omega Workshops. A creation of the Bloomsbury Group, Fry aimed to blur the distinction between fine and decorative work. Working with an artist's prints fit with this approach and, of course, it nurtures my affection for things Bloomsbury.
The third print I selected was violet bamboo ikat. A much subtler, print, which is in some ways my favourite. But, in all honesty, hard to have favourites. They work together and have different personalities. I like the discrete nature of this but with the flashes of red.
Here in close up:
These dresses will be available made to order from Spring 2012.
Ptolemy Mann, The Architecture of Cloth, Colour and Space at Ruthin Craft Centre, Park Road, Ruthin,
Denbighshire, LL15 1BB 19th November, 2011 - 15th January, 2012
The exhibition will then tour the country over the next year.