The Tai Lue Project (exhibition)

 

International Fashion Colloquium: Searching for the New Luxury

ArtEZ University, Arnhem. May 31 – June 1, 2018

A British Council, Crafting Futures Project

This exhibition showcased the recent work of Alison Welsh and Jasper Chadprajong-Smith who have worked hand in hand with female weavers from the Silalang community in Thailand, developing modern garments from expertly hand-woven textiles. The project was initiated to find innovative new ways of equipping artisans with design thinking and the integration of their cultural identity into new products. The garments were constructed in Thailand and England with the aim of exploring materials and techniques which support sustainable and eco-friendly textiles.

 

The weaver’s fabrics possess unique emotional qualities, woven slowly over days or weeks, gradually revealing highly accomplished and complex traditional patterns. The fabrics contain traces of the individual weaver, moments of their time are embedded into the fabric. The selvedge is an indicator of their temperament and their skill, an uneven edge reveals the handmade quality of the cloth. Each length of fabric is unique to the individual who made it.

The designers developed an understanding of the fabrics through repeated meetings with the weavers, gradually forming a picture of their way of life, their meticulously hand-crafted fabrics and their values. A sense of the power and authenticity located within the textiles informed the design process and led to new garments.

 

The project presents a new model for cross-cultural collaboration. This model was not based on a conventional design intervention, but on an equal dialogue between designers from different cultures, where mutual agendas were explored, and where the expertise of all participants was respected. Our shared outcomes have raised critical understanding of the benefits of cross-cultural collaboration for fashion design.

 

Images by Karn Supraphakorn: art director, stylist and photographer Ratchata Jitpakdee.

 

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