Thursday, October 20, 2011

Bird Textiles: Musing on a sustainable practice

Rachel Bending 

Whilst living in London in 1998, I heard about an amazing garden situated on a desolate part of the coast in the south of England. The creator of the garden was the (in)famous filmmaker and gay rights activist Derek Jarman (1942-1994). 

 Photographs of Derek Jarman and his garden taken by Howard Sooley

Jarman was best known for his films Sebastiane, Jubilee and Caravaggio but he was also one of a handful of public figures who spoke publically about HIV and AIDS. By the time of his 1993 film ‘Blue’, in which Jarman describes his life and vision, he was losing his sight and dying of AIDS related complications. 
He was in fact, a very private man, and chose to live out the remainder of his life at a tiny fishermans cottage called ‘Prospect Cottage’ in Kent. The solitude and silence attracted him to what was in all reality one of the most harsh and barren landscapes possible ....within a stones throw of Dungeness nuclear power station.
Out of this desolate expanse grew Derek Jarmans Garden. 

 Photographs of Derek Jarman and his garden taken by Howard Sooley

Later that year, some close friends and I made the daytrip to Dungeness to visit the garden. There was something terribly romantic about visiting the place a great man had chosen to rest. But for me, as for many, the beauty was in what Jarman had created from found materials, in a place where really nothing should grow. 

 Photographs of Derek Jarman and his garden taken by Howard Sooley

The garden, four years after his death, was exquisitely beautiful, even in its weathered and unkempt state.
Moments like this, my understanding of the intensely personal art practice of another, bound by the fragility of circumstance, interaction with nature and a deep awareness of environment. These moments are the inspiration for my design practice. 

Image Bird Textiles, Photographer Fran Flynn

Image Bird Textiles, Photographer Fran Flynn

Rachel Bending is the Creative Director and Founder of Bird Textiles. Rachels work focuses on sustainability in design. Heralded by Time Magazine in 2007 as ‘one to watch’, Bird Textiles range of organic fabrics, homewares, fashion and gifts is available from retailers around Australia, and through a comprehensive e-commerce site to a global marketplace. Widely recognised for its environmental consciousness, Bird Textiles is regarded as one of Australias premier sustainable design brands.

Bird Textiles website
Bird Textiles blog 
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  1. What a beautifully inspiring post!

  2. i love this! i adore Jarman's writing, esp about his garden, and i do text/textile stuff. thanks for this.