Thursday 12 June 2014

The emergence of allotment chic

"Does pattern have to be superficial and imitative or can it capture a fleeting moment, the fingerprint of a place or even the spirit of a person?"

That's the question posed in the Dora pattern blog (full transparency: she's my wife) - and the question behind it: is it possible to create a pattern with soul?

The result of her experiments go on show at the Chelsea College of Art Degree Show at the end of this week: five garments with patterns made for specific people in the huge Spa Hill allotments near Crystal Palace.

The allotment movement has been driving ahead in recent years, with more than six million people hoping to get an allotment and the waiting lists in one London borough now topping 40 years (see my history On the Eighth Day God Created Allotments for more details).  It is time that allotments developed distinctive clothing and patterns of their own, and what Dora has done here seems to me to be a giant leap in that direction.

You can see more on her blog and watch her short film about the people behind her patterns here.  But check out especially the blue overalls (see above) - dyed in indigo with a pattern of leaves taken from the shadows through by real leaves from the allotments onto a large sheet.

The result seems to me to provide something genuinely organic.  I've never seen anything like it before.  You can almost smell the earth.  See if you can. 

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