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'Botanic Encounters' is an exhibition demonstrating inspiration from the Wellington Botanic Garden collections. A group of Massey University, College of Creative Arts, School of Design, 2nd-year Textile Design students have explored methods of drawing, colour, textile design and botany research. This exhibition honours the timeless presence botany plays in the world of Textile Design and how it has continued to lend itself to an endless variety of translations. The exhibition features the students’ refined collections – a showcase of their advancements in surface pattern design and textile applications such as dye, poly-chromatic and screenprint.
Each student began by developing a collection of mark makings and drawings that described the nature of their chosen plant collection. Students experimented with ink, collage, rubbings and so on. They analysed established design and art styles that helped them determine a visual language they could explore through their drawings. For many of the students who participated in this journey – it was their first-time practising textile applications such as dye, poly-chromatic and screenprint. This included learning how to colour mix to match their colour palettes, learning how fabric behaves when it undergoes the printing, dye and fixing process. They also learnt the significance of translating their drawings through the allocated Textile applications. It was also their first time learning about traditional textile pattern networks such as brick repeat, scatter, or swiss-repeats.
One of the most valuable learnings these students achieved during their design journey was acknowledging and thinking critically about the impact and agency their positions as emerging textile designers can have on the environment and their design work. Students were able to think deeply, adapt, expand on relational contexts and in some cases – suggest sustainable ideas for future Textile practice.
The Wellington Botanic Garden collections are a significant reflection on how far the gardens have come in terms of growth. Their source as inspiration for this Textile Design exhibition portrays and acknowledges the diversity that botany has continued to provide. Lucienne Day – a renowned female textile designer of the mid-20th century reminds us of this, offering inspiration:
“Plants and the sense of growth – the sense of growth more than the plants, the kind of upward movement – was an important inspiration” – Lucienne Day in conversation with Jennifer Harris (author of Lucienne Day: A career in design).
This exhibition displays the inspiration explored by students and their growth in their design journeys.
Students share reflections on their experience and discuss how the Botanic Garden collections are reflected in the works they produced as well as other ideas and movements that influence their creative process