Cre­ative col­lec­tion Tex­tile trea­sures by NZ de­signer Mar­got Baw­den



“I want things to be made for longevity. You can like things that aren’t based on a trend” ~ MAR­GOT

It’s dif­fi­cult to imag­ine a more idyl­lic lo­ca­tion for an artist to prac­tise their craft. Stand­ing out­side tex­tile de­signer Mar­got Baw­den’s cre­ative stu­dio on New Zealand’s North Is­land, your breath is taken away as you view the un­du­lat­ing green­ery that is Maraekakaho Val­ley in Hawke’s Bay. The stun­ning lo­ca­tion for the artist’s workspace was de­cided one even­ing at book club; Mar­got was search­ing for a stu­dio, and her friend, Jenny, sug­gested they move her hus­band Mike’s fish­ing and camp­ing equip­ment aside and lend Mar­got the space she needed to start her fab­ric and wall­pa­per busi­ness, Heart Eth­i­cal.

Mar­got now spends most days of the week screen-print­ing or dye­ing fab­ric in her stu­dio. Or­ganic and nat­u­ral shapes – all dreamed up by her – cover me­tres of fab­ric, cush­ion cov­ers and an as­sort­ment of linen for the home. “I grew up in a fam­ily of sew­ers,” she says. “Get­ting to go into a shop to choose my fab­ric for my out­fits when I was young, and just be­ing around bolts of cloth, was a to­tal high­light. I just adore fab­ric and now I get to play with it all the time.”

A mostly self-taught screen-printer, Mar­got learnt the ba­sics of her new trade a decade ago at a course in Auck­land. “It was just enough of the knowl­edge I needed to get me on my way,” she says. The rest of her un­der­stand­ing was gleaned through ex­per­i­ment­ing – and hours on YouTube – but the pro­cesses came nat­u­rally to the artist, who used to work in dig­i­tal print­ing and de­sign.

At the cen­tre of Heart Eth­i­cal is the em­pha­sis on hav­ing the small­est im­pact pos­si­ble on the en­vi­ron­ment. “When I first looked at hav­ing my own tex­tiles busi­ness, what I re­ally wanted was some­thing that was nat­u­ral and to make some­thing with the least amount of chem­i­cals pos­si­ble,” she ex­plains. Through a fair-trade or­gan­i­sa­tion in

In­dia, Mar­got started work­ing with a hand-loomer, who now sup­plies her with the beau­ti­ful Bel­gian and French linen she prints on. Her cush­ions and prod­ucts are also made by hand in In­dia, then shipped to New Zealand, where they are hand­printed and dyed by Mar­got. “It’s a nice lit­tle global cir­cle of hand­made,” she says. By print­ing or­ders by the me­tre, there’s also min­i­mal wastage, and she can of­fer the added op­tion of cus­tomis­able pieces by colour or fab­ric. “I don’t think I should dic­tate to peo­ple what they should like,” says Mar­got. “I don’t want to nec­es­sar­ily be trend-based.”

While there are be­spoke el­e­ments to Mar­got’s work, Heart Eth­i­cal’s core col­lec­tions are purely the re­sult of her artis­tic whim. “My in­spi­ra­tion usu­ally comes when I’m re­laxed, so of­ten on hol­i­days,” she says. Case in point is her lat­est series, ‘The Lake Col­lec­tion’ – all of the de­signs were the prod­uct of one camp­ing trip at Lake Taupo. The shad­ows of Kōwhai trees cast onto the tents, and dis­cov­ered “jaunty” ferns in the un­der­growth, all be­came sketches and in turn part of Mar­got’s tex­tiles.

It’s easy to get a sense of the joy that was felt when these de­signs came to be. “I walk into my stu­dio and time dis­ap­pears,” says Mar­got. “It’s so spe­cial to be able to do what I love. In time, my grow­ing busi­ness will help me to look af­ter my fam­ily, and in a way that doesn’t im­pact the Earth.”

THIS PAGE: Heart Eth­i­cal sits atop the rolling green hills of Maraekakaho Val­ley in New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay. OP­PO­SITE, TOP LEFT: A batch of om­bre-dyed cush­ions, which is part of Mar­got’s ‘The Lake Col­lec­tion’, are hung to dry be­fore they’re...

THIS PAGE, TOP LEFT: Mar­got in ac­tion as she screen-prints. TOP RIGHT: Glo­ri­ous views of the val­ley pro­vide plenty of in­spi­ra­tion. BOT­TOM LEFT: Quick pen­cil sketches work to­gether to help feed fur­ther de­sign ideas. “Of­ten I just de­sign with pen­cil...

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