Sustainable wool carpet to Venice Biennale

Dr Heffernan’s Sunwinelimeberry carpet

An innovative carpet embedded with LED lighting by a Massey University textiles professor will be shown during the 15th Venice Art and Architecture Biennale.

Associate Professor Sandy Heffernan from Massey’s School of Design in Wellington undertakes innovative textile and technology collaborations that have included new yarn developments and sustainable dyeing innovations.

She came across raw wool contaminated with a high level of vegetable matter and wanted to show that it could be turned into something beautiful. Once off the sheep’s back, wool is checked for vegetable matter, which is then eliminated through processes such as carding.

“I used yarn which would have been sold for $2/kg and chopped up for insulation - it’s good to show that it can be used. We will need to use more wool in the future as there is more restraint on the production of petro-chemical fibres,” she says.

Dr Heffernan’s Sunwinelimeberry carpet (8m x 1.2m) is on its way to Venice where it will be shown in the Future Landscapes Exhibition at Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi from October 6 to November 27 during the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale.

The raw wool used for Sunwinelimeberry was sourced from one location, then commercially dyed by WoolYarns Ltd in Wellington and tufted by John Wyma at Carpets and Rugs of New Zealand. Dr Heffernan devised a system to embed LED motion sensitive lighting which lights a pathway as people walk on the carpet.

“In Sunwinelimeberry I explored territory and the language of rivers in the context of better living in the future,” she says.

During a busy period of travel in Europe that recently included a six-week residency at Contextile 2016 in Portugal, Dr Heffernan will return to Italy at the end of November as a guest of the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO). “They have invited me to their next round table in Biella, Northern Italy and we will be looking at the delivery of post-graduate on-line courses focusing on wool,” she says.

Some of Dr Heffernan’s former School of Design postgraduate students worked with the industry in ‘blue sky’ research to find new applications for strong and merino wools.


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