Crafts Magazine BOWNAS

Unbeknown to her family and friends Sheila Bownas was a very talented artist and designer. It wasn’t until after her death in 2007 that it became apparent the extent to her textile design.

Chelsea Cefai is now the owner of the Sheila Bownas archive and along with other designers she is working hard to show them to the world.

Having recently read an article in the Crafts magazine it was interesting to find out about the process which takes place in doing so.

Standing on The Shoulders of Giants

Sarah Waterhouse is a textile designer based in Sheffield, who was lucky enough to create a repeat pattern for hand printing onto interior fabrics from a painting by Sheila Bownas.

In the interview directed by Katie Treggiden, Sarah Waterhouse talks about her pattern designs, the importance of making by hand, and the future of craft.

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‘I tried to put myself in her shoes and develop the design based on the surroundings that inspired her. It wasn’t too difficult, because I am inspired by many of the same themes in my own work. Working with an archive of patterns by a designer you admire is a real honour, I’ve fallen in love with so many of Sheila’s designs.’ – Sarah Waterhouse

Sarah Waterhouse sarah w

I have found this article a great read and I have taken a lot from it. In groups I am currently producing a large scale print and so being able to read through Sarah’s process and the thoughts behind the creation of the design have been extremely helpful.

This article has shown me the importance researching other artists or designers can have on influencing your own work. Using inspiration from others or taking influential parts can help to develop my practice and this is something I should never forget. Sarah talks about working with an archive by a designer she admires being a real honour and how this pushed her to create something as equally as admirable.

She also mentioned putting herself into Sheila’s shoes in order to develop the design which was based on the Yorkshire Dales. Using subjects that really inspire me to form the basis of my designs will make it easier for my ideas to flow. I have already experienced how visiting places can inform my thoughts and help my ideas to progress. This will furthermore help my individual style.

Choosing the colour palette is very important. Sarah described the way she went about choosing the colour palette. As the pattern was a design made in the 1950’s she wanted to choose colours that would collaborate with this but also to show the design in a new, fresh and contemporary way. In order for me to develop my practice I need to think about what works well, Why I want to use that colour, what relevance it has and where did my inspiration for choosing the colour come from.

Sarah waterhouse four-baskets sw Blue-Thorns-cropped sw

Sarah has a very strong environmental policy and from creating her designs to the production and shipping of them she thinks about the impact it has on the environment and how she can keep that to a minimum. An example of this is she uses low impact dyes like formaldehyde-free and azo-free, which means they are not manufactured with chemicals known to cause harm to individuals. This is something I have not had much thought about before. I have used easily sourced materials and equipment such as dyes and paints. Reading some of the feedback and reviews on Sarah Waterhouse’s website I can see that there is definitely a market who focus very much on how much design impacts the environment.

It has really opened my eyes to the importance of being aware of contemporary artists, designers and craftspeople. Seeing how they work, the physical and thought processes they go through and how they are influenced.


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