Textile symposium gets back to nature

Ms Rangi Te Kanawa and Dr Karyne Rogers pictured at Te Whare Pora (weaving store) at Te Papa, will speak about their project Track the Black at the Nature Now symposium hosted at Massey University’s Wellington campus in early July. Photo: Te Papa

A textile and furnishings designer with an eye for high-tech is joining an expert in Māori textiles and an environmental scientist as keynote speakers at a conference co-hosted by Massey University that acknowledges the impact of the natural world on textiles and clothing.

This year’s symposium, Nature Now, which will be co-hosted by Te Papa and Massey at the College of Creative Arts’ Wellington campus, focuses on the rich relationship between nature and the world of textiles and costume.

The annual symposium to be held from July 7-8 is run by The Costume and Textile Association of New Zealand (CTANZ), a national organisation that provides a forum for the study, research and conservation of dress and textiles

A public exhibition will run alongside the symposium and will explore the themes of nature and time with a range of works by leading textile artists.

Hong Kong-based Elaine Yan Ling Ng, a British Chinese multi-media artist and TED fellow headlines the symposium. The textile and furnishings designer is internationally known for weaving together textiles and technology to create magical designs and has been described by Elle Décor magazine as a designer who “creates materials that move and grow like trees-but faster”.

The second keynote address will be a joint presentation by Rangi Te Kanawa, a Te Papa conservator and weaver who specialises in preserving Māori cloaks and Dr Karyne Rogers, an environmental scientist from GNS Science.  They will present the initial findings of ‘Track the Black’, a research project which aims to forensically reconnect Maori textiles with their origins through analysis of the black dyes/paru used.

“Modern forensic techniques will help to restore the human linkages and whakapapa in these textile treasures held in museums and private collections,” Dr Rogers says.

The conference will feature 20 diverse papers by presenters from New Zealand, USA, Germany and China with topics including the nature-inspired couture of Alexander McQueen, tivaevae, New Zealand rag rugs and mission samplers and the demise of Persian weaving.

Massey lecturer and co- author of the book Zero Waste Fashion Design, Holly McQuillan, will run a workshop on zero waste concepts.  There will also be tours of Massey’s digital fabrication laboratory (Fab Lab, Wgtn) and Te Papa’s textile conservation laboratory (the ‘textile hospital’).

School of Design senior lecturer Sue Prescott, who is one of the symposium organisers, says the event draws together a dynamic group of textile and fashion academics and practitioners.  “The wonderful diversity in the work to be presented reflects the industries of the future, where craft based work alongside technology provides key roles in our world.”

Nature Now, a symposium run by the Costume and Textile Association of New Zealand, is being held on Thursday and Friday July 7-8 at Te Ara Hihiko, College of Creative Arts building, Entrance C, Massey University, 63 Wallace, St Wellington.

Click on the word symposium for registration and event information.