Whilst sitting in my parents garden in the summer of 1996, I became mesmerised by the patterns created on the table by the light filtering through my fathers pint jug of beer.
About to enter the third year of my degree course I was looking for a strong subject to focus my final year project on something that really excited me. Most of my previous work was inspired by natural forms found in objects such as shells, cacti and plant forms. But now I had discovered something fresh that held huge possibilities for my constructed textiles with their variations in colour and weave technique.
I set about attempting to recreate this contained fluidity and distortion of light by using blends of hand-dyed cottons, silks and linens which echoed the qualities of liquids. These more 'traditional' materials were interwoven with others such as enamelled copper wire, plastic tubing and glass rods.
I have always been fascinated by the illusionary effect of light and how it enhances the visual senses and evokes different moods. The next logical step seemed to develop my textiles into light vessels and window shades. Recently I have diversified into furniture, creating a 'lo-lounger' combining my textiles with upholstered leather, the first project in a collaboration with designer Junior Phipps.
The development process of my work is very time consuming. It begins with constructing a warp of predetermined colour proportions. Attached to the back of the loom, each thread is painstakingly threaded through heddles (needle-type strings). This is done in a specific repeat order, to provide the required pattern. A weft yarn is fused at right angles through a threading manoeuvre to provide the final interlocking structure of the textile.
Over the last year I have focused on producing larger scale works and building my profile by exhibiting at design fairs such as the Hidden Art Design Fair, East London Design and Midland Grand Christmas Show. This year I will be applying to participate in a number of major design fairs in an effort to launch a range of furniture and design accessories.
Sam Atkins is based in London.
First published: a-n Magazine January 2004 as Liquid light
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