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Botanic Encounters

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Botanic Encounters is an exhibition on display in the Begonia House 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 honors 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 screen print.

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 analyzed 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 practicing textile applications such as dye, poly-chromatic and screen print. 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 on 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 not only displays the inspiration explored by students but also their growth on their design journeys.

Our students will be doing talks on their collections on 2nd June from 9.30am to noon.

Te Kūnenga ki Pūrehuroa|Massey University
Toi Rauwhārangi | College of Creative Arts
Ngā Pae Māhutonga|School of Design
Textile Design Department

Course Paper: 223.257 Design Studio IIA Textiles
Course coordinator & Lecturer: Sonya Withers | s.withers@massey.ac.nz
Instagram: @masseytextiles

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