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When we visited Asia last year I was so inspired and awed by the new-to-me culture and decoration of Buddhist and Taoist religious spaces; in particular the use and construction of a variety of temple hangings.

I have had these hangings in mind as I am working my way through all kinds of delicious inspiration from those travels. This first completed hanging is a bringing together of all kinds of interpretation and methods of print and stitch.

I began painting this beautiful illuminated manuscript from the Islamic Arts Museum in Malaysia in a simplified way by isolating the little scalloped shape and flower.

I then developed that into a printable silk screen using flour and water paste – a very simple and easy homespun method.

As you can generally only use the screen once (the paste deteriorates as its washed clean) I printed up a stash of luscious fabrics to use, overprinting one particularly yummy fabric that I had previously batiked and tie-dyed.

I chose to stitch the flowers into each shape rather than hand-print them as I was looking to add texture and colour to the surface. The rectangular bottom section features a simple floral lino-block I developed from drawing embroidery motifs on items in the Textile Museum in Kuala Lumpur.

The elephant print began life as a teaching demonstration for how to using screen filler to screen-print hand-drawn images. I re-drew a section of this beautiful wall decoration from the Wat Chaiya Mangalaram, a Thai Buddhist Temple in George Town using drawing fluid. It is later coated in another filler and later the drawing lines are washed out leaving the space as printable mesh (I don’t have of photo of that – sorry)

Here it is printed onto a randomly dyed base fabric and I added some fabric foiling too (another demo).

I lived with the pieces up on my design wall for a while, visually editing it and adding in sequin trim and a fantastic gold dangly bit I’d squirralled away sometime. I decide to learn a stitch called Cretan Insertion to attach the gold ribbon to the bottom seam and I think it finished it off perfectly.

Now to re-group and begin the cycle again.

I’ve been playfully stamping my Malay Flower lino block onto fabric grounds; some tie-dyed fabric, screen-printed ombre cotton and hand-painted silk using a gold ink pad I bought in the Xmas sales.

I’m just allowing some creative play at this stage; some prototyping maybe – I’m trying to not think ahead too far but see what comes. I’ve also added a few hours of stitches to one to bring some of the weaker printing results into focus better.

“Creativity is about play and a kind of willingness to go with your intuition. It’s crucial to an artist. If you know where you are going and what you are going to do, why do it?” Frank Gehry

This sums up nicely what I’ve been doing over the last few weeks. There’s nothing like a wide open calendar free of outside obligations to prompt some creative play. (I’m calling this my silver-lining having had all my work furloughed or postponed)

Early in 2019 I went to Malaysia with my daughter for a wonderful week full of culture like nothing I’d experienced before so this recent creative playing has been a wonderful chance to pick over the zillions of photos I took, pulling out images, colours and sights that tickle my arty-farty bones! I’m just responding to whatever makes my heart sing and going from there – I’m jumping from sketchbook to computer to lino-cutting to embroidery as I like and it’s wonderful fun to just play freely.

This is a little lino block I made after drawing some details from a beautiful silk textile at the National Textile Museum in Kuala Lumpur. 

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