Monday, October 17, 2011

Amber Ward: Musing on a sustainable practice

Kietsu: Creating with joy - a commitment to wholistic creative practice

Japanese for "joy", Kietsu embraces the notion that beauty is experienced through use and use imbues memory over time. With this has evolved a sustainable art + design practice committed to a wholistic approach to sustainability and the production of finely crafted, functional works. In this case, ‘sustainability’ includes environmental, social and economic considerations. Examples include sourcing local, non-museled wool from ethically bred sheep, the use of organic detergents and minimal water for handmade felt produced at my home studio. The use of alpaca fibre provides beautiful textiles from animals who tread lightly on the earth and produce lustrous natural colour palettes. It also includes the use of GECA (Good Environmental Choice Australia) certified Echo Panel for interior screens and the use of Eco Wool, hemp, organic cotton and ethically sourced silk from commercial suppliers with environmental credentials.

 Image: Midnight Rock Pool Rug, Handmade felt using non-mulesed West Australian Merino wool and Alpaca

Does commitment to sustainability present limitations to creative practice? I believe we have been offered a gift as artists, designers and craftspeople with the ability to create – and creativity is as unlimited as desire, passion and ability to find solutions. Driven to produce works that bring us closer to the beauty of nature, thereby awakening our desire to care for it, visual presentation explores organic forms and surface design, inherent soothing tactile qualities of natural fibres for finely crafted felt rugs and blankets, warm radiance of felt lighting and dynamic shadows cast through hand sculpted Echo Panel screens.

Image: Ascension, Hand-sculpted Echo Panel Private residence, Perth

Commitment to sustainable production processes requires either self-production of work, or working with contractors for larger scale projects who share a commitment to sustainable production processes. This can present challenges, which from my experience and geographic location, is symptomatic of a mining-centric economy where sustainability, craftsmanship and ethical design are not inherent priorities to industry. The technological production process may itself be sustainable, however, when the focus remains on a cost per minute profit basis, contractors may employ less than sustainable production methods to achieve quicker results. So therein lies the challenge of keeping watch over each part of the production process and maintaining the search for the right collaborators, or upholding a manual, designer-made practice regardless of project size.

This year has presented the opportunity for interesting collaborations with other designer makers and commercial partners, developing the hand made and experimenting with digitally designed work. The current project sees me working with International sustainable textiles company, Woven Image where I have been invited as an Imagination Partner to create work using their new Echo Panel ‘Mura’ product. Nurturing an inherent affinity with the hand made, evoking an essence or aura different to that which is digitally producted, the work will result in 22sqm of hand cut textiles to create an interior spacial installation, with the cutouts also being used within the work. The installation explores an underwater grotto of corals and the elusive leafy seadragon, paying homage to Metis, the mythological ocean nymph and mother of Athena, who name means wisdom, skill or craft.

 Image: Conch Pendant Light Handmade felt using non-mulesed West Australian Merino wool

With a portfolio ranging from the small, soft and tactile to large, rigid and fixed, the joy lies in creating functional works for private use and public installation which will hopefully in time become heirlooms, or at the end of their lifecycle be readily upcycled/recycled into new materials for future use, or harmlessly returned to the earth.

Kietsu Studio website
Kietsu on Facebook
Sustainability stories link 

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