Friday, 27 June 2008

Maker of the Week - Laura Anne Marsden


Interior accessories made from 'Eternal Lace'. This is a hand stitched lace, made using waste plastic bags instead of traditional yarns. The lace is put through various processes which change the properties of the plastic. The resulting textile is supple, flexible, waterproof and delicate in appearance, casting ethereal shadows on nearby surfaces. Eternal Lace is used to create wall pieces,cushions, panels, hangings and decorative vessels. I aim to preserve traditional stitch techniques while making them more relevant to society today, by addressing issues such as recycling and waste. Inspiration comes from many places, particularly vintage lace, organic forms, architecture, textile archives - such as at the V&A and exhibitions.

What place in the world has inspired you and why?
Paris is the place that has really inspired me in many ways, and continues to do so. I've been there many times since I was tiny as my Mum is 'Parisienne', and I'm still discovering new gems with every visit. The Museums and galleries and fantastic, I particularly love the Musee D'Orsay and Musee de la Mode et du Textiles. The latter puts on inspirational exhibitions of fashion and textile designers twice a year. The most recent was Christian La Croix, whose use of traditional stitch techniques, and sometimes outlandish colour combinations was really striking. The shades of grey found in the architecture are beautiful, and I use these greys regularly in my work. I relish discovering new independent shops. The last was a haberdashery, piled high with draws of buttons and walls covered in reels of ribbons. The flea markets provide much inspiration, rummaging through vintage textiles and old, decoupage postcards from 100 years ago.

What was the last art/craft/design thing you purchased?
The last design pieces I purchased were Margo Selby cushions when I moved house. Her use of colour and pattern is so effective.

Last best read?
'Trawler' by Redmond O'Hanlon. This gives an insight into the treacherous journeys endured by fisherman.

What do you have on your pin board?
At the moment it is a bit of a mess. I have samples up to remind me to develop them later. There are postcards of Queen Elizabeth 1st, in various ruffs, which inspire shape and form in my work. There are also scraps of antique lace, a pair of lace gloves and a starched collar. Many cuttings of fashion garments by designers such as John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. I find their use of drama and exaggerated scale very inspiring.

Where and what is your studio?
My studio is in my home, which I share with my husband. It is the smallest bedroom, though we are looking to convert the garage into a studio to accommodate equipment, and banish the mess! I work alone, which I like. I do miss the atmosphere of art school where you can bounce ideas around, and crit each others work during tea breaks. I work listening to the radio or i-pod. I find that if I work in silence I have a tendency to get distracted a bit.

When and where did you first want to do what you do?
I have always been creative and cut up my vest age 5/6 to make a cushion. Throughout school I was convinced I wanted to be a fashion designer. However, following a Foundation Course and some good advice I was steered towards Textile Design and a degree at Chelsea College of Art and Design. Initially I thought I was a print designer. After completing a 'Stitch' brief, I knew I wanted to manipulate fabric and challenge existing techniques. I specialised in 'Stitch' during my second and third year and carried on to do an MA.

One favourite historical artist?
Edgar Degas. Particularly the Dancer pastel drawings. The light, costume and body studies are very engaging. I also like the feeling of intimacy anticipation he captures in the 'backstage' drawings.

How much do you bend your 'vision' to suit the marketplace?
I try not to 'bend my vision' too much, however all designer makers have to, to a certain extent. I aim to create the large pieces I love making, as well as scaling them down and thinking on a more practical level. It's a balance between following your creative vision and appealing to the market and selling pieces! I find that people often buy a smaller piece first and then may invest in something more ambitious later.

How do you set about starting a new project? I begin by stripping my pin boards and tidying the studio. I then seek new inspiration from books, magazines, films, many sources. I then produce a few drawings and take photos. These are usually colour, shape and texture studies. I use these to inform pattern, colour and any image that I may incorporate in my work. I love the beginning stages of a project and carrying out all the research.

Do you have a good work/life balance?
I think it's difficult for most creative people to switch off completely from their work, it's a bit of an obsession. I'm a worrier, so if I'm working on an important order or for a show I find it hard to shut the door on it in the evening. I do get up in the night and jot down ideas for products or techniques quite regularly. Even on holiday I always have a small sketch book with me, in case I have any good ideas!

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