Does pattern have to be superficial and imitative or can it capture a fleeting moment, the fingerprint of a place or even the spirit of a person?
My final collection is based on five pattern-making experiments that try to answer this question – to find out if pattern can be anything more than skin deep. Together with gardening friends on my local allotments, at Spa Hill in Upper Norwood, I have created five pattern stories that reflect a time, a person and a place.
By collaborating with them, I wanted to create a recipe for pattern-making with soul: a way of using pattern to re-enchant and beguile the eye, encouraging people to look more closely and care more deeply about the world around them.
I found the process of collaborative making intriguing and inspiring. Each person was so very different and each life in its own way was so extraordinary and challenging. As we grew closer and spent more time together - making design decisions about the colour, form and composition of the pattern became clearer and clearer - a bit like a picture coming into focus the longer and more carefully you look at it. Looking back - it seems as if the process of making something together was quite straightforward - but actually at the time it was anything but. The process of practical making definitely helped refine the process.
I learned three (at least) important things about collaborating
1) Be honest and share as much as you can - even if you don't know very much to begin with
2) Build in an element of reciprocity - so that there is equal give and take.
3) Never stop exploring, looking and reflecting together. Share as much time as you can and over as long a period as possible - we were lucky to share spring and summer together which is a really wonderful time on the allotments.
I have became very close to my co-pattern makers and I know they have enjoyed elements of the project just as much as me. The intimacy and momentum we built together has carried us on into new ventures – a garden at the Chelsea Fringe (www.chelseafringe.com), making soft furnishings and a community pattern-book project which has been awarded funding by UnLtd.
Now this project is over - I hope to carry on working collaboratively in this way, providing bespoke pattern-making services, working with individual clients to design patterns that respond strongly to their specific vision and needs.
Here are the final pictures of the garments I made with our prints. I will also post up links to the film and book I have made as well as the pictures of the show on my new blog www.dorapattern.blogspot.co.uk
Special thanks to the pattern-makers: Stinky aka Sarah Newton and Isabelle, Eileeen Ward, Beverley and Thabo Witter and Tim Gundry-White. Thanks also to Martin Cleave for the beautiful photographs.