Dahlia Drive places evocative images on the transient beauty of previously interpreted textiles and women.
Although encouraged as a visual artist in my early schooling, I embarked on a 25 year career of telling stories in the venue of the theatre. In 2001, I decided I wanted to tell my own stories through cloth and by 2005, through cloth on the female form.
Most fashion pieces are created from pre-patterned 2 dimensional yardages cut and sewn into a finished sculptural form. Dahlia Drive starts with the sculpture. Curtain sheers, once diaphanous boundaries between our homes’ inner and outer worlds, are shaped to become transparent boundaries between the bodys’ inner and outer worlds. This relationship inspires me to layer, infuse and embellish a new story onto its guise, influencing how we choose to be seen in the world and what we wish to reveal. Dahlia Drive seeks to inspire every woman to embrace themselves as a body of art.
The blank cloth is the canvas. I design shapes with attention to where the body will live sculpturally within it and I plan the imagery around where it will be seen on the body. The imagery of the entire construct is in one piece, passing through seams and over neck holes, around arms and under hems; there is no limit to where the image, the story, can go. The woman’s body brings the story to life through the elements of shape and movement and the story invites a new interpretation through her.
Dahlia Drive was the vector upon which sat my first home in 1955. The 2nd youngest of 5, I was branded by the Californian heat, the smell of guavas and tangerines, the click of cricket legs, the soft love of my mother, the kisses of our dog. Much of my inspiration comes from my sense impressions on Dahlia Drive. The vectors of Cumberland Drive, Trafalgar Street, Bute Marina, Home Road, 136th Street, Cliffmont Road, B Dock, Delkatla Slough and Fraser Street have bisected and layered and tattooed their stories onto my ever expanding map.
Many things inspire me. The ones that stick, that beckon me to reinterpret and transform them, are transitory in nature. I delight in and hold a tight fisted fear of evolution; embracing change but fearing the absolutes that accompany it: life/ death, value/ inconsequence, messy/ clean, beautiful /ugly. My theatre background houses this process as an ongoing quest, a splash between the brackets, where I endeavour to live life as it reveals itself through me and continues its spin into the universe.
Originally, all sheers were collected from second hand stores.
Today, curtain sheer material is collected from the discarded roll ends of manufacturers. Most rolls have been discarded because they do not match other dye lots for production or have woven flaws/stains in the fabric.. The consistency of base colour is not important to my process and I can cut around or mend flaws. [*of note: the more we expect consistency in results, the more waste is created in production. Exactness means there is no tolerance for inconsistencies and the system becomes mechanized: mendings become weaknesses, changes in colour are ‘flaws’. Time and money is saved in the mechanization of the textile industry but space for curiosity in process, acceptance for exception and uniqueness has been sacrificed. Consumers have grown more demanding in this system, seeing only “perfect copies’ of products as a sign of exceptional value. ]
Those materials purchased ‘new’ (for the new puffy coat) are sourced from ethical suppliers of recycled polyester.
The content of all materials (excepte the collars in the puffy coat) is polyester. Polyester was invented in 1941 and became the go to fibre during the war when cotton was hard to find. It soon became a popular substrate because it does not wrinkle or stain easily and is durable, light, long lasting. Artistically, polyester is a superior fibre to print on because the dye is permanent once heat set.
Polyester is not biodegradable. Dahlia Drive’s use of discarded roll ends saves the landfill from garbage that will never compost. [ *of note: When polyester fabric is no longer produced as a textile, there will be no more roll ends and I will paint on something else. In a changing world of how to live consciously on earth, using what we have means we anticipate the expectation of redundancy and plan for our need to transform.]
Because polyester does not breathe like natural fibres, Dahlia Drive creates open structures that invite air to flow through them.
Disperse dyes are purchased from the States. I buy only a few colours and mix them to create the palette I want. Even the Black is mixed. The dyes are non toxic and water soluble.
Fabric is procured
Pattern created and printed
Sheers are cut and sewn into structures. Structures are ironed.
Paper is painted and/or screen printed with colour and images.
The paper is strategically placed on the structure, folded and pinned to cover the entire surface securely.
The ‘sandwich’ is now heat pressed to transfer the design into the fabric.
The finished garment is unpinned, washed, dried and ironed. Buttons are applied if warranted.
Dahlia Drive pieces are long lasting because the material is tough, stain resistant, sun resistant and fade resistant. Upkeep saves energy in water for washing and energy for drying; wash by hand, hang dry, no ironing necessary
[* of note: Enjoying and caring for what we have stops us from buying more of what an arm’s length, profit driven fashion industry tells us we need].