It’s degree show time again. I missed Chelsea last year, so made sure I got there early this year.
As well as the large number of Chinese students, which I’ve commented on before, what struck me this time was the increase in the number of installation pieces, rather than textile samples or garments. Some were interesting, some considerably less so.
As usual, my personal highlights are influenced by my interest in form and texture.
Top prize for use of innovative materials must go to Lok ka Kong, aka Kristen Kong, whose collection of beautifully delicate organic forms was made from dried watermelon rind! She said she had experimented with apple and aubergine before settling on melon. These were also dyed with beetroot.
The colour and texture reminded me of the extraordinary garments made by the Aleut in the Arctic from sea mammal gut – you can see some in the British Museum.
Talking of texture, Jing Tan incorporated plywood, rubber and stitch, among other things, in her display of work that seemed to have been inspired by coral and marine life.
The texture of some of Qinrun Yu’s pieces brought to mind Dale Chihuly’s fantastical glasswork, so it was not a total surprise to learn that she used glass wax in combination with knitted wire or yarn – even though I’d never previously heard of glass wax. Yu says her work was inspired by sound waves and movement.
Kuniko Maeda, too, was inspired by motion and its relation to emotion, assembling identically shaped pieces of neoprene into stunning multilayered adornments.
Siying Sun also used layers of fabric connected with beads to decorate her white, green and orange garments.
Having started off using lots of plastic bags in my own work, I loved Kloe Peart Price’s sugar-almond hued pieces of woven, knotted and stitched plastic bags – they were such fun.
Plastic also featured in the work of Vanessa-lee Hamlett, whose punk-inspired prints were created from black bin bags and sacking, combined with a belt made from black plastic bags and jute fringing.
The Chelsea Summer Show runs until 27 June 2015.