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  • Writer's pictureShelley Pisani

For the Love of Textiles - Wabi Sabi Designz

From something old and worn, something new and beautiful emerges

Mackay artist Yvonne Wingrove has been an active participant in the CQ Shopfront program from the beginning. Her work is exquisite and the story behind her work is just fascinating.

How Did You Get Started In Your Practice?

Wabi Sabi Designz started out as a collaboration between two sisters, Yvonne and Heather. Both our mother and Nana were excellent needlewoman, and as was the practice in the 1950’s, their skills were shared with us. We were encouraged through their practices, to create from both new and recycled fabrics.

I spent many years living in Asia and was always seeking out the wonderful array of local textiles in the countries in which I lived. After a visit to a Melbourne Gallery which featured an Asian textiles exhibition, Heather and I decided that we just needed to find a way to work with vintage Japanese textiles. We delighted in the artistry of the textiles, the historical significance of fabric in the Japan along with the colours, vibrant designs and the stories about each piece.

What Are The Key Inspirations Behind Your Work?

Our mother and grandmothers recycled fabrics and trims as a matter of course before it became fashionable to do so. We have drawn on these happy memories and this time-honoured approach and commitment to recycling worn but treasured textiles to create something new and beautiful from something old.

The Japanese vintage textiles I work with, are works of art in their own right. These fabrics are most often hand woven, embroidered, or dyed, using a variety of traditional Japanese skills and art.

I am inspired by the rich elegance and beauty of the textiles. The textile itself will often determine the final design and creation produced. I have drawn on Japanese history and traditional clothing construction as inspiration for our accessories and clothing ranges. I designed a Tsumugi silk jacket with flanges on the shoulder, drawing inspiration from the armour for the female samurai who fought alongside their male counterparts. Our kinchaku bags are inspired by small silk bags which first appeared in the Endo era and were used to carry the family seal, money, and lucky charms.

What Is The Business Model And Products That You Are Aiming To Develop Through Participating In The CQ Shopfront Project?

The project has encouraged me to look closely at every aspect of Wabi Sabi Designz. For example, I now have a better understanding of target audience profiling. This is something I have not considered previously and know it will help me decide which marketing avenues to take and where to focus my energies for each product. I intend to formulate a business plan to give me the direction I have lacked in the last few years. I am very inspired to take a fresh look at the business and try new ideas to help push Wabi Sabi Designz forward.

What dreams do you have for the future of your practice?

I am now working in Wabi Sabi Designz by myself, but I feel Heather’s presence every day and her spirit will always be very much part of Wabi Sabi Designz. Our dream was to share these beautiful textiles and bring our products to as many people as possible.

Our clothing range features original designs inspired by a rich Japanese history, using beautiful textiles. The Japanese fabrics make a huge statement, so we keep the garments simple and clean, combining them with contemporary silk, organic cotton, and linen. I will be looking for retail outlets out of regional Queensland that see Wabi Sabi Designz garments as unique and beautiful stock for their store.

Wabi Sabi Designz...........a coincidence?

About six months after we started Wabi Sabi Designz, Heather and I were going through some photos from our mother’s childhood and found a photo of her dressed in a Japanese kimono – this was a photo that we had never seen before. Mum had hair ornaments, a fan, parasol, and traditional shoes and socks as part of her outfit. We later discovered that our grandmother loved everything Japanese, hence this outfit she handmade for our mother.

Coincidence or not.........

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