I may not look Asian, but I am often told my textile prints and drawings express a certain Asian flavour.
One summer when I was eight and my family lived in Singapore, I watched my mom learn Chinese brush painting at the Dutch Club where we were members. I loved the way a wet brush could do so much: One simple vertical stroke would release a new page from the roll of rice paper. Inky wet brush marks bled into shapes, and then magically into petals, bamboo, fish, birds, flowers....
When I was allowed to have a go at my own drawing, it just wasn't quite the same. Possibly because the teacher didn't speak much English. When he looked at the house I had painted, I thought he told me to draw a crab next to it..I didn't think it was a good idea, nor could I draw a crab, but complied. On his next turn around the table he looked at my blob with legs floating next to the house and in an annoyed tone repeated “Crab crab! Not crab!” It took me a while to realise he had meant cloud!
During my final year at Central St Martins, I was still inspired by those watery, bleeding brush strokes and the challenge to coax them into something beautiful. For my final collection I painted big black inky flowers on recycled knits of nudes, pinks and reds, and covered them in raindrops of shimmering clear sequins and foils.
When I discovered the cartridge ink brush while at school in Japan I was hooked. Perhaps it's no surprise having lived in Singapore and Japan growing up, and then in Hong Kong, that it became my favourite tool for drawing. Not too long ago, those fashion illustrations inspired my fashion brand Emi & Eve.
Next week, I will explore the art of Chinese brush painting in textiles and fashion. Stay tuned!