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Digital Textile Printing

a 3D3 research project

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Exhibition – Weaving Magic – Chris Ofili, 26th April to 28th August 2017, National Gallery, London

Chris Ofili‘s work has evolved from the colourful , dazzling collages perched on elephant dung which I first saw at the infamous Sensation show at the Royal Academy of Art way back in 1997, and more recently at MUMOK, Vienna. The works at MUMOK looked lonely, and lost but the a lot of the work at MUMOK looked like that. My experience there was rather unwelcoming, so much so I didn’t even write about visiting there in my Vienna Posts (here, here and here).

His work is still colourful and cultural but is far more pictorial and crossed mediums into weaving. ‘Weaving Magic‘ is a collaborative piece really, the piece took Dovecot Tapestry Studio three years to make, the labour undertaken by five weavers. Surrounding the weaving are dancers, drawn onto the wall from the cornice to the skirting by members of the Royal Opera House scenography department. The drawings look like they’ve been done in graphite or a soft HB pencil and are actually panel installations, created just like the ROH’s backdrops.

What is really magical is how the translation of Ofili’s original watercolours into thread. The tonal gradations really look like they’ve been painted on in a wash of water and paint. It reminds me of the Shadow Tissue technique, where thread was printed before being woven to create blurred images. I can only guess how the weaver’s achieved this affect. The work was funded by The Clothworkers Company who will now host the work in the Clothworker’s Hall.

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Exhibition – X Play – Camille Walala, 14th July to 24th September, Now Gallery, London

Camille Walala is a textile designer whose work has branched out into installation pieces. Her exhibition at the Now Gallery in Greenwich was a colourful pattern maze which asked the viewer to question their perception and visual memory whilst enjoying a brightly coloured space. You were meant to spot the pattern anomalies but we mainly enjoyed the intersections created by mirrors and space.

Dissemination – DataAche Exhibition, Radiant Gallery, Plymouth 9th-12th September 2017

 

My work was shown in the Radiant Gallery, Plymouth as part of the DataAche Conference, the 21st International Conference on Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts.

I presented a colour reference book which features 1137 Pantone Colours printed across 5 substrates (paper, wool, linen, cotton and silk) to compare the visual differences. Each colour featured a table of metrics listing the numeric values needed to create it digitally (RGB, HSB, LAB, CMYK and Hex). 4 printed colour charts (wool, linen, cotton and silk) were hung on the wall so that visitors could get a closer look at the differences between the substrates. I wanted to demonstrate that the substrate being printed upon played a big part in colour result.

After making the colour reference book I used a spectrophotometer to measure each coloured swatch in the book. The values returned were translated back into digital colour, using LAB values, and converted into HSB data in order to compare the hue, saturation and brightness shifts between the original screen colour chosen and resulting printed colour. To visualise the shifts I created colour maps using hue, saturation and brightness circles with the screen colour plotted centrally and the resulting colours placed on the outer rings to demonstrate where hues were shifting, and how the intensity and lightness of colours changed. I proceeded to take an average of each colour shift to create a predicted colour change which was plotted on a second map so that each hue had two maps to show actual shift and predicted shift. These maps were printed onto matt textured paper and displayed on the wall alongside the reference book and colour charts.

Its all work in progress for the moment, the next step is to test if the predicted colours are a better match than current software gamut mapping previews.

The group exhibition featured work by other 3D3 students on the theme that we are drowning in data and the use and misuse of data.

Dissemination – Exhibition at Gallery Kopio, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, Finland 24th August – 30th September 2017

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The 3D3 Residential this year was hosted by the University of Lapland which is in Rovaniemi, Finland. The 3D3 cohort travelled to the North Pole via Helsinki, our aeroplane greeted by Santa and his sleigh and huge towering Reindeers. We stayed on campus in the University’s guest accommodation (some of the rooms had en-suite saunas!) and were made thoroughly welcome by the Faculty of Art and Design.

Along with visits to Santa Claus Village and Bilberry picking in the forests our trip involved talks by many of the research staff. Finland has a long history of engaging with practice as research so it was incredibly interesting to hear about the diverse work they were undertaking.

Professor Tuija Hautala-Hirvioja talked to us about the history of the indiginous Suomi population whose territory extended across the top of Finland and Scandinavia. Many of the craft traditions have been continued with many Suomi artists questioning their heritage, identity and cultural placing, within their work.

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Professor Eija Timonen presented the work she has been conducting with ice. The environment is very important to the Finnish, temperatures descend to -40 and below in the Winter and in a period known as ‘Kaamos’ (roughly end of Dec – February) the sun does not rise at all. In the Summer the sun will only set for a few hours a night. These extreme conditions mean that people are very aware of the weather and their surroundings. Timonen observes the ice as it thickens and thaws across the seasons. She documents the changes through photography and film, often sawing through large chunks of ice to extract and place objects behind it in colourful photographic compositions. Whilst she does not record the sounds it makes she talked dynamically about the noises and rhythms the ice creates. Timonen creates cut out collages from her photographs that she displays as installation pieces, the spaces between the photographs and the shadows cast by them becoming as important as the photographic images themselves. She frequently collaborates with other practitioners and has produced a range of clothing and textile pieces.

Professor Jaana Erkkila was our primary host and she couldn’t have been more welcome and generous. Erkkila is a printmaker but the process she wanted to share with us in her lecture was more about modes of reflection than her personal practice. Erkkila began the Slow Lab at the University of Lapland as a response to the bureaucratic structure of academia where academics who are ‘paid to think’ lose their reflection time to administrative tasks and teaching because of a culture where busyness rather than productivity is championed. The Slow Lab opened a space where people could come and think. The only rule was that you weren’t allowed to do anything in the space that was constructive, for example write a journal article or funding application, knit socks, make work. The space was a place to celebrate idleness and a need to un-think. The Slow Lab also holds events where staff members can come together, to cross divides, and collaborate through activities such as cake making, where the end result is not a measurable output, but rather an opportunity to get to know each other, improving working relations across the University.

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We were invited to show our work in the University’s public space, Gallery Kopio. The exhibition presented work by staff and students from the 3D3 Consortium. I displayed 48 Colour Maps which I’d been working on. The maps represent the changes in Hue, Saturation and Brightness values of 24 Pantone Colours which had been printed onto different fabrics (wool, linen, cotton and silk), measured with a spectrophotometer and the LAB values converted into HSB. These were then plotted as squares on a Hue circle and compared with the original screen colour. The changes in value were used to predict an average colour change for printing on fabric which was visualised on a second colour map (each hue had 2 maps). The exhibition remained open until the end of September even though our residential finished on 27th August.

It was a wonderful trip. Very thought provoking and a great way to experience other cultures and discuss work with the other 3D3 students and staff in a really supportive environment.

 

Exhibition – Breathing Colour, Hella Jongerius, 28th June to 24th September 2017, Design Museum, Kensington London

IMG_0149Hella Jongerius is a Dutch designer whose meticulous research into colour and materials is documented in the exhibition ‘Breathing Colour’ at London’s Design Museum.  I was recommended this exhibition by my supervisor so on a very hot sunny Sunday I dragged my husband and two year old down to the newly vamped Design Museum, moved from riverside Bermondsey to Holland Park’s offshoot in the old Commonwealth building.

The new Design Museum is a really nice building to look at and two year old (and husband) LOVED the water fountains outside which he could wander through as they jetted up to the sky.

The permanent collections are free with displays on 3D printing, a walk through timeline of design classics and some nice displays on industrial design such as Jacquard weaving produced using punched cards, the computer generated textile. It was also good to see some work by Natalie Du Pasquier and Memphis, the Milan design collective she founded.

‘Breathing Colour’ as a collection of colour research is astounding. It was like looking at the contents of my head but beautifully displayed, much more coherently laid out and far more intelligent. I had to keep reminding myself that this series of work must have been made over many years and builds upon years of experience and knowledge. But it was truly splendid.

 

Jonegerius has used her knowledge of colour and how our perception of colours adjusts as light changes to produce a number of weavings depicting the same scene / object at different times of the day. This simple idea has been fantastically constructed from hazy misty sheer hangings that barely have any form in them at all to a dark, textured, almost demonic weaving with spikey tassles protruding out of it for the scene in the dark.

A separate room deals with evening light, displaying shades of blacks in an installation of objects and layers across the floor. More weavings, beautifully constructed, show off dark tones subtly composed together. A colour wheel of painted paper curls, like flowers with central stamens showing the two pigments used to create each hue, is vaguely lit.

In the central space a circle of pots, each glazed in bright arrays of colours makes some wonderful instagram snaps. On the wall are paintings with rectangular chops in them, the missing pieces of canvas laid next to them in a colour palette. This is Jongerius’ exploration of traditional methods of colour making.

A metamerism booth delights my two year old who moves the blocks from one light to another, now its orange, now its grey, now its blue.

The materials that Jongerius uses are varied. The transulcent, jelly like blocks that capture morning light hang and glisten. Metal juxtaposes against fabric. I really like the whole combination.

The colour catchers that dominate the space almost appear a bit like standing stones. They are there to demonstrate how colour perception changes depending on the space an object is in, the shape it is and the light cast on it. The shadows, folds and hollows within these geometric pots made from paper visualise the ways that changes to reflected light alters the our perception of an objects colour.

Trade Show – FESPA 2017, 8th May 17, Hamburg, Germany

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IMG_9474On 8th May I got up at the crack of dawn, headed to Heathrow and jetted out to Hamburg to attend FESPA, a print trade show for the wide format printing industry. FESPA has a special area dedicated to textile printing as well as printeriors, an interior showcase, so I was keen to see what the latest trends and developments were in the digital textile printing world.

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The exhibitors were from a range of manufacturers and suppliers. All the big printer makers were there; Epson, Mimaki, Kornit, Roland, HP, Canon, Durst, JHF, Brother, Luscher-Tschudi, as well as ink and dye producers and suppliers of coated fabrics.

Inks and Dyes

The trends seemed to be for new colours in sublimation printing, particularly bright neons as well as ranges of  pigment inks. Suppliers from across the globe, including China, offered bright colour palettes and some really great pre-printed fabric samples to take away.

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IMG_9447Printers

Dye-sublimation seemed to dominate as well as direct to garment printers but there were several inkjet printers as well. Kornit offered the Allegro which was able to coat the fabric through one of the print heads as well as print it.

Coatings

Premier Textiles featuring Durabrite inks had a great stand which included a display of upholstered chairs in a patchwork of the fabrics that they offered. They had a large range of coated fabrics ready for Latex printing as well as dye sublimation and reactive dyes.

Software and RIPS

Caldera seemed to power every machine on display and they were there promoting their Textile RIP which seemed popular. I managed to pick up a copy of their press magazine ‘Gamut’ which had some excellent articles on colour management and how printers and designers need to co-operate to achieve great quality prints. I hadn’t heard of Caldera before, they’re a paper RIP primarily, but their website is a great resource and has an interesting blog, including lots on colour management.

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Oki demonstrated a laser toner digital textile printer and a 3D printer which printed images that could be seen as 3D if you wore special glasses. They also had a printer which printed glow in the dark ink. All great novelties for the t-shirt market

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It was noticeable that many of the bigger companies had been busy buying up smaller specialists companies. Epson featured Robustelli on their stand who developed the Monna Lisa which is a high end digital textile printer.

HP provided an entirely printed room filled with various substrates all digitally printed using various methods including Latex printing.

 

Dimense had a really beautiful 2.5D printer which they showcased as 3D but really is a textured print. Very interesting.

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After a long day I trekked back to Hamburg airport, boarded a plane back to London, and was home in time to put my two year old to bed at 9pm. Zzzzz

Exhibition – Patterns, Furniture, Paintings, Josef Frank, 28th January to 7th May, Fashion and Textiles Museum, London

 

Josef Frank was an Austrian designer who moved to Sweden in the 1930s to escape the rise of fascism and anti-semitic feeling. He began working for Svenskt Tenn who still produce his designs today.

This exhibition at the Fashion and Textiles Museum provided an insight into his design process, exhibiting his painted designs alongside large hanging repeats.

A few of the designs had been upholstered on to furniture you could actually sit on! It was a really well displayed exhibition, in a space that often struggles with its curation.

His colours are bright and bold, with many of his designs featuring 6+ colours, which would have each needed a separate screen for printing. His motifs are frequently floral, but are contemporary, perhaps because of saturated hues he uses. Strong greens, yellows, blues and purples with block backgrounds. The geometric and abstract designs have an appearance of more modern designs from the 1970s and 80s despite being much older.

The show continued upstairs with examples of Frank’s paintings which had a similar style to his designs but really weren’t as interesting. This exhibition represented a very iconic and much replicated designer’s inspiring portfolio.

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Exhibition – Vanessa Bell (1879-1961), Dulwich Picture Gallery, 8th February to 4th June 2017, London

Vanessa Bell was a key member of the Bloomsbury Group and Omega Workshop. This exhibition spanned her entire career from early paintings, textile designs, book illustrations to her later works. It was really exciting to see her design work in this context because you could clearly see the links between the way she painted and the way she designed. The colours were earthy and bold and the patterns very geometric. I sneaked a few photos of the design work (see above). The designs were shown as small portions of the repeat print alongside sketches such as several rug designs. She used grid paper to work on which I really liked and a mixture of black lines alongside blocks of colour. The designs feature no more than a few colours as they would have been block or screen printed.

The exhibition offered a rather nice retrospective of an artist who sometimes seems to be overshadowed by the work of her sister and her Bloomsbury peers.

Exhibition – Turning Inwards, Louise Bourgeois, Hauser and Wirth Somerset, 2nd October to 1st January 2017, Bruton, Somerset

Hauser and Wirth in Somerset has an enormous Louise Bourgeios  spider which normally lives in a courtyard at the back of the gallery but for this show came in out of the winter cold into the gallery space along with a number of prints she made in the last 4 years of her life.

Many were monochrome, or tones of a dominant colour, and featured organic wriggling and undulating shapes that depicted numerous body parts and plants. Hauser and Wirth describe them as ‘interweaving the artist’s reflections on femininity, sexuality, botany, family and infancy’. They reveal the maker’s hand and have a lovely sense of movement to them. It was wonderful to see work from an artist still making such strong and beautiful work into her 90s. Very inspiring.

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