Good Peo­ple

Tex­tile de­signer Ali Davies is cre­at­ing to­mor­row’s mem­o­ries with her ex­quis­ite range of hand-printed linens and home­ware.

Good - - CONTENTS - Words Leanne Moore/Cave Bu­reaux. Pho­tog­ra­phy He­len Bankers/Cave Bu­reaux

Meet Auck­land tex­tile de­signer, Ali Davies

“I see my de­signs as a vis­ual stim­u­lus of all the mem­o­ries that bring us com­fort.”

Stand­ing on this sub­ur­ban Auck­land street, there is no clue of the peace and pri­vacy that can be found in the back­yard of tex­tile artist Ali Davies’ home. “It feels like a lit­tle haven tucked away,” says Davies. “Our prop­erty backs on to na­tive bush that drops down to a gully so there are no houses be­hind us.”

Hav­ing bush and bird­song close at hand was a draw­card for Davies and her per­former/di­rec­tor hus­band John. For the past three years the cou­ple has been trans­form­ing their four-bed­room home in Green Bay for them­selves and their chil­dren Monty, 15, Nico, 13 and Anysia, 9.

Davies has been de­sign­ing tex­tile pat­terns and hand print­ing fab­rics for more than 20 years. The Fabric Queen is her brand of ta­ble linens and home­ware printed on a base cloth of hemp and or­ganic cot­ton. This fits Davies’ ethos of hav­ing fab­rics that are sus­tain­able and as close as pos­si­ble to the orig­i­nal source ma­te­rial.

What is your ap­proach to con­scious liv­ing?

My ap­proach is sim­i­lar to this ex­cel­lent di­etary ad­vice I read re­cently: ‘Eat food, not too much, mostly veg­eta­bles.’ With con­scious liv­ing I say, ‘Be true to your­self, don’t be greedy, be kind to oth­ers and don’t give up!’

You’ve mixed bold colours con­fi­dently in your home and filled it with art, books and trea­sures – what’s im­por­tant to you when choos­ing things to sur­round your­self with?

Well, strangely enough I very sel­dom buy art or dec­o­ra­tive objects. I cu­rate the things that have found me over the years. Ev­ery­thing has a story and has come from friends and ac­quain­tances. I’ve never been very keen on use­less dec­o­ra­tive items. They have no life force. We love books. They’re al­ways all over the place; I can never keep them tidy. Colour is the only real thing I con­sciously use to im­pact my home and en­vi­ron­ment. I love tex­ture, bas­kets, fabric, wood, ce­ram­ics, can­dles and stor­age items. Laven­der is an­other es­sen­tial item I use in my home.

Why is it im­por­tant to you to cre­ate work that is made in New Zealand?

For me, it’s com­mon sense and what works for my busi­ness. I make my prod­ucts in New Zealand be­cause I live here and I’m a com­mu­nity per­son. I also like to know who made my things. My cus­tomers are start­ing to trust my brand now as be­ing gen­uinely made in New Zealand so I’ll keep it that way as long as I can. I’m not against any­thing made over­seas in prin­ci­ple. As long as peo­ple and en­vi­ron­ment are not ex­ploited, then there can be won­der­ful op­por­tu­ni­ties in all kinds of places.

Would you like to see your de­signs be­come heir­loom pieces for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions?

Fab­rics hold mem­o­ries. I get let­ters from peo­ple over­seas and in New Zealand who share what it means for them when they see my fab­rics in their home. They are re­minded of a spe­cial time or mile­stone. I see my de­signs as a vis­ual stim­u­lus of all the mem­o­ries that bring us com­fort. Over time I’d like to think that the var­i­ous pat­terns on the ta­ble that I have made will evoke mem­o­ries in my kids of all those din­ners we had to­gether.

It’s not easy to make a liv­ing from be­ing cre­ative in New Zealand. What keeps you go­ing?

My cre­ativ­ity is bot­tom­less. My pas­sion never goes away. I’ve also su ered a lot from de­pres­sion and even though at times I’ve felt doomed to eter­nal cre­ative poverty, it has also saved me. I be­lieve that art is solv­ing prob­lems; if you’re cre­ative you will find a so­lu­tion. If you stick to your guns things will hap­pen. My work has never been about the money but I’ve learnt that if you choose to ‘live’ from your work, at some stage it has to be about the money. If you’re pa­tient and open to learn­ing you can have both. My de­sire to see my work in many places and en­joyed by many peo­ple is strong enough to over­come al­most any di iculty.

What as­pects of your con­scious-liv­ing ethos do you bring to your work as a fabric de­signer?

I have learnt to trust my gut in­stinct. I ask my­self: ‘Is it beau­ti­ful? Does it cre­ate value? Does it make me feel good?’ If I feel lost, my Bud­dhist prac­tice helps me to stay tuned and bal­anced.

For her own home, Davies is drawn to strong colour and dec­o­ra­tive objects that have mean­ing and a back story. The Fabric Queen Davies’ beau­ti­fully de­signed ta­ble linens and home­wares are printed on a base­cloth of or­ganic cot­ton and hemp.

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