Updated: Nov 15
The Honours collection of designs is a collection that I created whilst studying textile design in the Scottish Borders Originally it was named "The Essence of the Shire". This was a year long project which was inspired by the landscapes of Aberdeenshire, My home county which I had moved away from to study. I found it to be a real change of pace, with the Borders being filled with so many people, and so many towns so close together. Being able to walk everywhere now is a luxury I still cherish, whereas previously it would have been a half hours drive to pop to the shops and get my shopping. Despite this new found freedom, I found myself constantly trying to find some countryside to escape to, after being so used to an abundance of green space. I managed to find myself a flat on the outskirts of town, with a view of cattle that left me feeling more grounded. But this feeling of homesickness - from my family, familiar surroundings and being rooted in nature is really at the core of what inspired my graduate collection.
As a designer whose work process is deeply routed in primary research, I spent the summer before the project started making as many trips to Aberdeenshire as I could afford, to gather inspiration and references to work from. In the beginning I wasn't completely sure where the project would take me, and so researched a large portion of the Shire's aspects - from castles to cows. Eventually I settled on landscapes, ready to begin paying homage to the land that I loved, and dearly missed. When the artwork for the project began it started as small summery landscapes rich in texture. These little rough paintings were happily brought to life in my loose acrylic brush strokes. Even now, I still fins something charming in them. As the project developed these progressively joined together to create A1 textural geometric patterns that gave clues of its natural beginnings but also stood in their own right. After the winter break I took some time to re-evaluate where the project was going and what the correct way to pursue this was. As my project was very abstract I felt it was only right to properly go for it and abstract it further.
These designs developed by using the large painted A1 sheets as a reference. This is also how the name for the project came about - "Essence of the Shire". As these collections were completely based off of the primary research I had conducted all over Aberdeenshire - but due to the abstract nature, you didn't immediately know that. To get the project to live up to its name, I drastically changed my colour palette. My previous summer colours just weren't representing the true driech weather that is associated with Aberdeenshire .
Weather is one of the only things that has consistently made me homesick living away from the Shire. The main reason for this being the rain. Aberdeenshire is wet. With persistent heavy rain that soaks you through, more flash flooding than you can imagine, and a constant need to bring a jacket "just incase", there is no avoiding it. I've found no where else
quite compares, certainly not the Borders, with its drizzly rain.
I think this is why I always found myself associating dark colours and blues with the Shire. I was so used to seeing it damp, and covered in rain clouds or a misty fog that you could watch slowly descend from the hills. I feel that the colour palette I've ended up with is representative of the shire, with damp blues, earthy browns and that plum colour that creeps up everywhere when you start looking.
I finished the project by photographing the fabrics outside in nature. Due to Covid restrictions I finished my degree from my flat in the Borders, and found myself trying to get creative in how I could make my samples look good from my bedroom. Eventually I came up with the idea of immersing my samples in nature- putting them back into what had inspired them. To see more of "The Essence of the Shire" collection and my journey through my graduate collection - please visit my instagram here.
Now, as a graduate, I have been slowly using these designs to create products for sale. Designs from this collection are currently available in a series of A4 recycled paper prints and a series of organic cotton tote bags. To see more, please browse our online shop here.