The group departed Auckland this past Saturday and will be travelling the country until the end of March. A mixture of both Fashion and Jewellery students will be hosted by Pearl Academy in New Delhi. Their schedule includes embroidery, block printing and weaving, and a variety of visits including to textile and craft museums as well as jewellery design. You will see students sharing experiences through their blog and social media.
A design collaboration project was begun at the start of the year. Students will be able to utilise the exceptionally refined skills of artisans whom have been practicing these traditional crafts for generations to finish their work. The project focusing on traditional Indian design.
Before their departure we spoke to Pascal Silliman to find out more about the trip and what she's looking forward to.
Please Introduce yourself
My name is Pascal Silliman. I am going into my second year at Whitecliffe, studying Fashion and Sustainability.
You’re going on the Prime Ministers Scholarship trip to India. What are you excited about?
I haven’t been to India before. I’m excited to see the culture over there. To see the Temples and the art spaces. Meet the Artisans of the local areas and see what kind of amazing skills that they have. I’m really excited about fabric block printing. It’s a long process and it’s really deep in their culture. Also natural dying, we learn quite a lot of that with the course that we’re on at Whitecliffe. So, it will be really cool to see ancient dye vats that have been around a really long time and to see the traditional process that they do there.
What is your project about?
Originally, for our projects we have to take the traditional Indian design or traditional beliefs and contemporise them within a design. Mine is focused on a contemporary painter, Shakuntala Kulkarni and her works of art. It’s about empowerment for women and the figures in the painting are nude and they’re in vibrant reds and maroon colours. The women are in forests so I wanted to create a story with the clothes that I’m making; that the women who are wearing the clothes are the women who are empowered in the forest. But also within that there’s this added layer of… we’re supporting women artisans, we’re paying them fairly for their work and we’re showcasing their work. It is all around supporting women, that’s what my project is about.
What are you hoping to achieve or come back with?
One of the main things is I want exposure to new crafts that I don’t even know exist yet. The other thing is to learn crafts because I am quite a maker and I like to involve different techniques like natural dying, clothing breakdown and things like that so adding more into that will add a deeper layer to everything that I design in the future.
Are there elements of the work that they do there that, with your research; you have seen are easily translatable back to a New Zealand work environment?
There are things that are easily translatable like natural dying, a lot of that you can do here. Then for things like fabric block printing and maybe embroidery, it will be about learning the basics of how they do it. Watching them do it and then you on your own can improvise how you can use that in contemporary contexts.
What does Create Meaningful Change mean?
I think that Create Meaningful Change is really applicable to our course and sustainability, within that going to India. Even, we, New Zealand ship all of our clothing waste to under developed countries and they’re drowning in all of our waste. It’s poisoning their waterways and rivers with all the tanning and leather production and things like that. So create meaningful change is analysing how we are consuming our clothes and making better design choices so we as designers aren’t causing those problems as well.
What do you aspire to achieve after University?
I guess there’s two main aspirations. I work in costumes in TV and film. I love working in costume, it’s a really creative job but at the same time it’s really unsustainable. All the products are made for a short life. They’re only for a season and after that they get destroyed because they’re intellectual property. There’s a lot of waste and toxins consumed in the making of clothes and sets, everything like that. So, it’s about taking these natural products and natural knowledge and translating that into a wider context. That can have a big impact.
The second part of why I am studying Fashion and Sustainability is my love for the earth and all of her beauty. I would love to take the knowledge gained from this Degree and step into something interesting and climate positive like developing biofabrics. Biofabrics is becoming a new field of work. People have made textiles from mushrooms, kombucha, seaweed, pineapple and more. This means that less harmful chemicals are going into our waterways and they can break down easily so we don't end up with textile waste.
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