No matter how efficient you are as a business, and how meticulous your manufacturing process, the art of making clothes inevitably involves some element of ‘waste’ fabric; those scraps and ends of material never destined to find a use. That is, until now. To celebrate London Craft Week, Sunspel has teamed up with textile artist Katherine May to breathe new life into the forgotten pieces of our English jersey and turn them into art.
An artist, designer, researcher and lecturer at Goldsmiths and Chelsea College of Arts, Katherine May captures what she does with impressive precision: she’s simply a gatherer. “I’m always gathering materials and also like to gather people to make together,” she says. However you define it, her modern take on traditional craft techniques – think patch-working, plant-based dyeing and quilting – has resonated with the likes of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Crafts Council and the Arts Council England, prestigious institutions which have all supported Katherine’s work.
People and personal stories are a common thread in everything Katherine produces. “What I’m always really interested in is the history of textiles and clothing, the social and cultural connections to a particular technique or garment,” she explains. The communal discipline of quilting in particular captures the essence of what Katherine does. “It’s about working together to join pieces of cloth and through that joining also sharing conversation and storytelling,” she says. Another facet of Katherine’s work is her interest in reviving forgotten textiles and clothing. “It’s a recurring idea within my work,” she explains, “making quilts from people’s old clothing or indigo dyeing garments to transform the colour”. It’s here that Sunspel steps in, commissioning Katherine to produce a quilted wall hanging made entirely from leftover scraps of our fine English jersey, which is still knitted and dyed in Leicester.
To see the finished quilt and learn more about our Reuse & Reconstruct project with Katherine, join our London Craft Week event at our Chiltern Street store on Thursday 4th May. Email RSVP@sunspel.com to reserve your place.
If you can’t make the event, Katherine’s quilt will be on display in the Chiltern Street throughout Craft Week, from 3rd – 7th May.