Tenacious repetition and Fragile order

Introducing now

Sarah Desmarais

A textile designer maker using the traditional printing methods of Japanese katazome


Portal to a world behind the art works


      • hat is your current art project? What are the ideas that you are working on? What is the message you are trying to convey to the world with your art?
        I’m currently making handprinted fabric panels for an installation. This will be part of a group exhibition of Japanese textile arts, run under the umbrella of the official Japan Season of Culture 2019-2020, at Craft Central in London.At one level, my work is about the distinctive characteristics of slow making itself. Slow making has been the subject of a variety of residencies and projects I’ve carried out as maker and researcher. My practice explores the value inherent in laborious, precise, repetitive, mindful manual processes. This value can be articulated in terms of a more sustainable culture of ‘fewer, better things’ (Adamson, 2018), and also in terms of an ethic of patience and care metaphorically sewn into each piece and perceptible to maker, wearer and perceiver. Visually, I’m interested in exploring an aesthetic of tiny variations, tenacious repetition and fragile order perturbed by currents of disruption and minor imperfections – ideas echoed in the Japanese concept of wabi sabi. I work in a reduced colour palette of blacks, whites and neutrals in order to focus on pattern and form. I’m fascinated by the way that a dot pattern, for instance, produced with a hand-cut stencil and then hand printed, results in myriad forms that are each utterly individual; and how the stitches in a hand-sewn seam each have their own unique length and character. These – often subliminal – irregularities produce a liveliness and syncopation captivating to the eye, and lacking in digital repeats and industrial garment construction.

        At another level, my work seeks to communicate at an emotional, partly unconscious level. I intend my mark making and means of construction to articulate a poetry of the fragile and the intricate. When my cloth is shaped to the body, this awareness of precarity and delicate balance is extended to the human form and its relationship to beyond-human materiality. My use of extremely delicate, sheer and irregular materials, often layered, references human embeddedness in complex, shifting assemblages including fragile ecosystems. As a designer who started off as a fine artist and who continues to make prints, paintings and installations, I see my textile and clothing design as occupying a liminal space between the fine and applied arts – a space that enables the use of the body as a canvas, and inspires a rich affective vocabulary.

      • How would you describe your process of entering the flow, what other disciplines overlap with your primary vision?
      • I find it helpful to ‘get myself out of the way’ when working, and instead to surrender to or follow the lead of the materials I’m using. I try to be responsive to their suggestions, rather than imposing my will upon them. The materials of katazome – mulberry paper stencils, a rice paste resist and dyes – themselves produce a particular range of possibilities and a distinctive aesthetic. The finished designs result from these material propensities in dialogue with a language of forms that emerges from drawing and mark making in response to nature.
      • What inspired you from history of art, books, philosophy, science, any other disciplines?
        Visually I’ve been inspired by many non-Western textile traditions over the years. At the moment I’m excited by the quiet, minimalist prints and paintings of Agnes Martin and of Rebecca Salter, both of whom produce works that are delicate objects of contemplation – I’d like my textiles to produce similar effects. I’ve also often been inspired by poetry, for instance the work of Octavio Paz or Vasco Popa. A poem creates a nebulous, subtle feeling world that’s a point of departure for new forms and rhythms that are abstract visual equivalents.
      • What place on Earth inspired you the most?
      • At the moment I’m inspired by weathered coastal landscapes and a sense of the action of vast forces on materials over millennia. Some of my favourite coastal landscapes are to be found in Greece and in Cornwall.
    • What is the latest dream you had? How would you like this civilization to look like in 100 years?
      I dream of a world in which the slow, manual virtues of patience, care, industry, tenacity, labour and craftsmanship are fully valued. I concur with Richard Sennett (2008) when he suggests that ‘we can create a more humane material life, if only we better understand the making of things’.


    Art history


    Exploring the world of Petar Lubarda, seeing through all the way to building block that the stone is

    Exploring the world of Petar Lubarda, seeing through all the way to building block that the stone is

    This is a story, a personal impression rather, of a great artist Petar Lubarda with his roots in Montenegro, with trunk in former Yugoslavia’s Belgrade and Paris and branches, leaves, fruits and flowers in the World. He reaches deep into the history and yet gives us something completely new, a way to look through the prism of the stone that becomes a bone that becomes a structure that becomes an architecture. An architecture of the cosmic journey that we all take on this planet becoming one with the stone that made us and at the same time we become appalled from time to time when we notice the glimpses of the core. We live in the world so dominated by the ruthless ruler called beauty that often times we live in the superficial layer that the underlying truth frightens us. We have learnt to ignore the depth to such a degree that we follow the footpath of positive psychology, from one landmark to another, to avoid abyss at any price, the abyss of the unknown that the subconscious mind knows.

    Louise Bourgeois is crossing the boundaries of any of the definitions and exploring and emphasizing on the prevailing forces of the subconsciousness of the 20th century

    Louise Bourgeois is crossing the boundaries of any of the definitions and exploring and emphasizing on the prevailing forces of the subconsciousness of the 20th century

    Louise Bourgeois graced this planet with her presence spanning almost a century, during which she created a wide range of artistic pieces in different languages of materials and expression. She is one of the artists of 20th century who always came back to the psychology, self observation, getting back to the core, finding essence in the childhood memories and events.

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