Thursday, 9 October 2008

Pwll y Wrach

Pwll y Wrach - Witches Pool - is a wooded nature reserve on the edge of Talgarth at the foot of the Black Mountains; and it's in walking distance. It is a tree lined valley with a little river at the bottom and a voluminous waterfall higher up the river, falling into the Witches Pool. In the spring there are carpets of anemones and ransomes, bluebells and sweet woodruff, and of course, all those amazing ferns. It's always green and cool and shady and damp in summer, and changing leaves and intriguing fungi in autumn. There are high rocky outcrops and fallen trees, left for the wildlife.
It has struck me though, that its very easy to miss the detail. The countryside can be quite monotone - varying shades of greens or browns, but punctuated by bright glimpses and short-lived sweeps of contrast. In the spring I started to think there may be an idea to explore here. Historically, colours were far more valued than now and carefully used. Using colours, especially the more precious ones such as Madder, in small quantities with undyed yarns may even make them stand out more........And the textures are there - in barks and plantlife, and rocks and stone - but easily overlooked

Violets are typical examples of overlooked detail - their tiny short stemmed flowers hidden among the dead leaves in spring.

Design Wales Trends Seminar - and a Dilemma

Today I went to the Trend Seminar put on by Design Wales for anyone involved in design in Wales. This was in Cardiff, they also hold similar ones in the north of Wales. It's a free event so nothing to lose by going, and a free lunch into the bargain.

The first presentation was by Design Wales about intellectual property in design (copyright, trade marks etc) and was really interesting. Some things I was aware of, others not, and the whole issue seems a potential minefield. It was suggested that one keeps all research and design work relating to a project for example, not just the finished design, as proof if a conflict arises. (Will have to dig some bits of paper back out the rubbish then!) has loads of info.

The second item was an overview of 2009/10 trends by the CEO of a company called Mudpie Ltd. (they have a website but you have to subscribe to it to get any information) I hadn't been to anything like this before and was Totally Unprepared for my reactions! As she was running through the trends and pages and photos of the categories, I started to feel quite overwhelmed by the sheer scale of it all and the marketing language of getting the consumer to buy, buy, buy. The pictures of young children on catwalks, beautifully dressed in miniature fashions, had me feeling rather uneasy. The idea of fashion changing in shops every 6 weeks and the waste that must generate, the total reliance on the consumer consuming......Have I been spending too much time in my rural idyll? I had a real conflict as we were discussing the day on the way home (I went with my daughter Emily, who is trying to make her way designing and making clothing in hemp and locally woven wool and such like). Are we not part of this world too, wanting people to buy what we do? Is this something I want to be part of? I'd expected to come away with ideas and inspiration and feeling like I may have a direction, not considering dropping the whole idea and hiding in the hills.

At lunch time the Soil Association representative, Lee Holdstock, had arrived as he was doing the first afternoon presentation on what constitutes organic textiles. Lee had been my main contact when I was considering certification and helped get the dyes approved, so it was encouraging to be able to have a chat to him. His presentation was based on cotton production, using the Aral Sea destruction as an illustration. I read about this area a number of years ago - it was one of the first things to get me thinking about textiles and how we produce and use them. He also said how the market sector for organic textiles was growing - up from 1/2% to 1% - so here we are, a many times micro set-up in a micro sector! No wonder it's so uphill!

At shows we have people coming to talk to us about their travels in far flung places - Nepal, Tibet, India, Africa, - and the textile crafts people they have met. Last Sunday a man shared some of his experiences in health and safety teaching in India, where he had seen people die in Indigo vats. But he had also met Bedouin tribesmen who refused to use synthetic indigo as it was too fast; natural indigo would rub off onto their skin, so their garments became a part of them. I wonder sometimes, have we lost something in our quests for more and cheaper, and the consistent perfection of colour and fibre and weave and twist?

Anyway - enough of all that! I'll try to get some more photos uploaded, maybe even some of my bunnies.