Imbued with lush, painterly strokes, patinated texture combined celebrated 30-year practice.
HOW HAS YOUR WORK AS A PHOTOGRAPHER INFORMED YOUR DESIGNS? When I first started I was painting fabrics and making clothes. I became a fashion photographer in the early 80s before moving more into lifestyle. About a decade ago I started experimenting more with my pictures. This coincided with the end of analogue and I was reluctantly forced into the digital world. I felt rebellious and started thinking about how my pictures were reproduced and wanted to see them as fabric or ceramic. At first I was underwhelmed with the results, but then I saw they had a certain marriage of the contemporary and antique – a sense of ‘Is it new? Is it old?’ – and I love that. I like things that have the patina of age, a quality of being lived in. But at the same time the textiles felt modern. HOW DID YOUR NEXT SERIES COME ABOUT? I had a series where I’d taken photographs, had them reproduced on canvas and then splattered paint all over them. It wasn’t a success story, but then I looked at the ground that was covered in splattered paint, and thought “But that looks good!” I photographed paint-splattered cardboard and made still-life pictures, and those became the beginning of The Accidental Expressionist. HOW DID THE RANGE EVOLVE? I’m not approaching collections with the idea that one rejects the other, more that they can marry together. I was on a job in Greece and looked into the water and saw all these patterns and thought they looked like fabric. I took photos, which ultimately became the Rock Pool collection. HOW DO YOU DEVISE YOUR PALETTE? With Rock Pool I removed stronger blues and greens because I wanted to take the water’s movement and shapes but didn’t want a picture of the ocean. HOW DO YOUR IMAGES TRANSLATE TO FABRIC? The technology that converts an image into a pattern with the jacquard loom is about 10 to 15 years old, but my fabrics look different because I work with painterly images in the first place and have ways of making them look more painterly, so they translate into something much softer than a photograph made into fabric might. spenceandlyda.com.au