I write this blog post with a tinge of sadness. It’s hard to believe that this is the FINAL challenge and also my final post. The Printed Bolt Repeat(ed) Competition has kind of become part of my life since it started earlier this year. It has been an amazing journey, but as we all know, good things must come to an end. I just want to say a huge thank you to Ellen and Madeleine for running such a wonderful competition and for selecting me to participate. Also, a huge thank you to the wonderful insights, feedback and encouragement from the guest judges and regular judge, Michele Rosenboom. And, for all those who have read the blog posts, voted and/or commented… it’s all been very much appreciated!
So, with all that said (or, rather written), I should get back to presenting my final collection, A Journey Back In Time.
Just to re-visit my previous post, my grandmother was the inspiration behind my final collection. She sadly passed away earlier this year, not long after I returned to Jakarta and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get back home in time to say my goodbyes. Seeing as so much of the inspiration behind my designs in this competition has been personal, choosing my grandmother seemed fitting.
To be honest, despite spending lots of time in the presence of my grandmother in her later years, I actually don’t know a lot about her life. As she got older, life became more about dealing with the day-to-day routine and less about reminiscing about her past. Also, there was the language barrier. Her limited English and my hopeless knowledge of Cantonese meant communicating with her was a challenge. I’ve relied and my mother and relatives to piece together bits of her life.
The patterns in my final collection are not so much a reflection of her, but draw on a few snippets of her life, some aspects of which I could also relate to in a way – I hope that she would have liked them too!
Leaving the Village:
My grandmother, as my mother puts it, went from playing with dolls to having an arranged marriage, moving to a new country and becoming a mother. This pattern reflects (in my creative interpretation) the small village in China that she left she was a young girl to start her new life in Melbourne. I was fortunate enough to visit the village not too long ago and meet some people who remembered my grandparents. The beautiful mountains in the distance, greenery and clear blue skies were a stark contrast to the populated and often polluted big cities I visited on the same trip.
Journey by Sea:
When my grandmother travelled to Australia, there were no flights like there are today. For her, the journey to Brisbane from China was by boat and took about 5 weeks. This was no pleasant journey either; she told my mother she was seasick everyday and when they finally arrived in Brisbane, they still had to travel further south to Melbourne. No wonder my grandmother always suffered from motion sickness! Hearing about this treacherous journey has given me a greater appreciation of the sacrifices my great grandfather and grandparents made to come to Australia. In this pattern I tried to encapsulate the rough and endless stretch of sea.
I’ve always been a bit intimidated of creating a floral design, because there are so many beautiful ones already out there. But to me, a pattern collection doesn’t seem complete without some kind of floral, so I thought I would give one a try! Despite the hardships that my grandmother endured in her life, she was fortunate to have not one, but NINE healthy children. I wanted to create a flowing floral to represent the lives she brought into this world – no easy feat; since having a daughter of my own, I couldn’t imagine having another eight more!!
Lost in Translation:
Despite living in Australia for most of her life, my grandmother didn’t have a good grasp of English. Having so many children, meant she never had an opportunity to work or spend time outside the home to improve her language skills and she generally socialised within Chinese community. I can appreciate the difficulty of living in a new country since spending some time in Jakarta. Not speaking the local lingo is tough and can feel so limiting. I wanted to create a pattern that showed the motifs getting tossed around to create a feeling of things (such as words) being jumbled and mixed up; kind of like when you’re attempting to communicate in the new language, but with your limited vocab, what you’re really trying to express just gets lost. A feeling I’m sure my grandmother felt time and time again.
Whew! This final challenge wasn’t easy. There were plenty of false starts and much indecision with colour palette. I didn’t have one pattern that I thought was a focal print, but wanted a set of prints that worked harmonious together, but could also be strong individually.
Finally, best of luck to the other two superb designers in the final round, Kim and Alice – I have no doubt you’ll both have wonderful collections. And, I also hope to see more of the other Top 10 participants and their work around – Repeat(ed) has just been the beginning!