Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Pattern Base
By Kristi O'Meara (Edited by Audrey Victoria Keiffer)
Book Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

There are a number of book reviews on this blogspot. For your convenience I have listed the other book reviews below:
Textiles: The Art of Mankind - Mary Schoeser
Stitch Stories - Cas Holmes
Creative Strength Training - Jane Dunnewold

It is difficult to write an impartial review of a book that contains some of your artwork. Before reading my review I need to clarify my association with Kristi O'Meara.

I have never met Kristi, but I was for a brief point in time in email contact with her. I sent her three images of my ArtCloth work for consideration to be selected in her "The Pattern Base" book. In August of 2012 she emailed me stating that all of the three submitted ArtCloth images would be included in her publication. I was surprised and delighted to be included in her book.

Cover of "The Pattern Base" book.

Prior to our contact, I was well aware of Kristi's expertise in contemporary textile and surface design, and of course I knew that she was the co-founder (together with Audrey Victoria Keiffer) and creative director of "The Patternbase" itself. I have also previously blogged about designer patterns and the importance of such valuable compendiums for young and not-so-young textile artists who are starting on their artistic journey.

Kristi O'Meara.

"The Pattern Base" (Author: K. O'Meara, Editor: A. V. Keiffer, Publisher: Thames & Hudson, London, 2015) contains over 550 contemporary textile and surface designs and is 368 pages in length. Some 467 artists had sent over 2,500 designs to be considered for publication and so only ca. 20% of those submitted were chosen. Hence it was a very competitive process. Furthermore, this is the first publication that was self-released by The Patterbase. Moreover, Kristi created the book as a Kickstarter project, thereby raising funds in the process. The book retails in Australia for AUD$43 from book outlets such as "Fishpond".

Review: The Pattern Base, K. O'Meara (Editor: A.V. Keiffer)
Thames & Hudson, London (2015)

"The Pattern Base" features over 550 contemporary textile and surface designs from 146 designers from around the world. The emphasis is on a medium (textiles) and then on how an imaginative process can transform your act of engagement with the medium itself (surface design). This creates imaginative atmospherics that are so important in an array of artistic endeavours from ArtCloth to Art Quilts to Wearable Art to Fashion and Accessories - just to name a few!

The book is organized into two parts: the first acts as a source book of designs by well known or interesting textile artists and designers, whereas the second part features 13 of some of the most innovative and exciting textile designers/studios coming onto the scene.

In order to muster such a large herd of designs in the first part of the book and so deliver a book of a practical size, there needed to be an effective organizing principle to reduce 2,500 submitted patterns to a fifth of that total. Here the author and editor wisely chose an organizing principle that rested on the patterns of surface design: Geometric, Floral, Representational, Digital, Abstract, Illustrative, and Fabric Swatches. Some of the images that were chosen are self-evident for their inclusion under each section, while others are far more subtle in content. Nevertheless, it would have been a more educative process if a separate introduction was written for each section, thereby highlighting why some of the images were a compulsory selection. This would have informed textile novices of subtleties in surface design which may have escaped their attention. Perhaps for a future rendition for the next book in "The Pattern Base" series.

To give you a feel of the quality of the surface designs that were included I have listed two from each section which I feel are self-evident as to why they were chosen and included in that section.

Category: Geometric

Title: Sunset Chevron (2012).
Artist: Grace Michiko Hamann.

Title: Thermal Rings (2013).
Artist: Kristi O'Meara.

Category: Florals

Title: Morris Floral (2012).
Artist: Olivia Mew.

Title: Jungle (2012).
Artist: Demi-Goutte.

Category: Representational

Title: Black Swan (2012).
Artist: Sandee Hjorth.

Title: Cool Dudes: Tapestry 1 (2012).
Artist: Andrew William Erdrich.

Category: Digital

Title: Polarity 3 (2012).
Artist: Lauren Elizabeth Krischer.

Title: Basillica (Placement) (2010).
Artist: Roshannah Bagley.

Category: Abstract

Title: Funky Flames (2012).
Artist: Ursula Smith.

Title: Maharani Blur (2011).
Artist: Poonam Dhuffer.

Category: Illustrative

Title: Genie (2013).
Artist: Audrey Victoria Keiffer.

Title: Forced Nature (2012).
Artist: Naomi Hefetz.

Category: Fabric Swatches

Title: Dialogue II (2011).
Artist: Marcia L. Weiss.

Title: Super-spiro-scribble Density Test (2010). Top Image: Detail. Bottom Image: Work in situ. (Produced with the support of the Ontario Arts Council).
Artist: Amanda McCavour.

The second part of the book - Featured Artists - has an effective and succinct biography of each artist/label/studio. It is effective in that it delivers a voice to their art. Here my choice of who should feature in this review is fraught with doubt since so many of the thirteen artists/studios works could have been selected, which gives you an insight into the quality of their work. In the end the choice was more arbitrary than by merit.

Featured Artist: Hannah Truran

Her wearable art evokes a fantasy futuristic world.

Featured Artist: Sabine Ducasse

Her wearable art represents a fusion between her "east meets west experience" - since she has lived in Shanghai but is originally from Paris.

In general, I would have liked to have been informed about the various techniques employed in the creation of the textile surface designs. Clearly, in one section it is evident by the title of the section (e.g. digital), whereas in other sections the techniques used would have been of interest to many readers.

Art books can fail to sell because of the pricing and poor production. Neither one applies to this book. I am amazed that so many images from an array of different sources from around the world reproduced so well in the publication. Nevertheless, as in the case of all good books, some gremlins do occur with one or two attributions not matching the appropriate images. Overall, the production team should be extremely proud of this book.

The book concludes with a Designer Directory, photo credits and an effective index as well as an acknowledgement to Kickstarter donors. Even the rear end of the book substantiates your learning experience.

This book is a visual feast. However, it has a far more substantial role than just tickling your senses! It is a "must buy" for every library in a University, Community College and Senior High School that delivers textile courses. It provides such a wealth and breadth of textile surface designs that it will help grow the ideas of the next generation of textile designers and artists. It is also a "must buy" for experienced textile designers, since it will keep them abreast of what is new in their field. It sits proudly amongst some of the finest textile books I own! This mature insight into surface design of textiles does not need a kickstart - it just needs Kickstarters!

Marie-Therese Wisniowski - international ArtCloth artist and former co-editor of Textile Fibre Forum (the largest selling textile art magazine in Australia and the South Pacific).

1 comment:

Linda Stokes said...

Thanks for the review Marie Therese - sounds like I need it!