Catch The Rain
How Hole & Corner inspired a collaboration, celebrating design and craftsmanship, between New York artist Audrey Louise Reynolds and Jigsaw.
Featured in the Collections Issue
Like warm sunshine on one’s face, Hole & Corner has recently been basking in the reflected success of a new collaboration between New York artist Audrey Louise Reynolds and Jigsaw. So inspired was Sally Graveling, Head of Design at Jigsaw, by a feature on Reynolds photographed by Backyard Bill in Issue 04 of Hole & Corner that Graveling was compelled to contact Reynolds to see if there was a way they could collaborate. After an initial Skype call, ideas quickly germinated and work began on creating a range of prints using rain to imprint the colours of natural ingredients – wild ripe blackberries, dandelion, weeping willow bar and pale pink crystals – onto cotton cashmere, silk and linen for a specially commissioned spring/summer collection at Jigsaw.
Reynolds is a fervent and articulate spokeperson on the need for a sea change in the fashion industry. Integral to her creativity is the impulse to make things in a way that are as harmless to the environment as possible. As Reynolds explains, ‘Why when we produce something locally, do we then pour a chemical dye onto this beautiful thing? We don’t need to take away more, but should just add to it.’ Her commitment to change is illustrated in her ability to persuade Jigsaw’s Irish linen supplier Baird McNutt to swap traditional dyeing chemicals for naturally occurring ingredients, including burnt beech vines and red earth for the first time. A self-taught pigment expert, she has grown her knowledge by trial and error, working and producing natural pigments from flowers, soils, fruit and vegetables. ‘The challenge’, she says, ‘was to find the right sweet spot in the pigments so they wouldn’t cause reactions in the machines.’ It wasn’t an easy process, but patience helped. ‘I always appreciate everyone’s role,' Reynolds says. ‘Jigsaw was patient with me; when I wanted to test things that aren’t normal, they trusted their initial feeling about me. Baird trusted us to put these materials into their machines, and it’s been a giant payoff through trust, patience and persistence; it’s required everything!’
Then there’s working with the weather… ‘It's unpredictable working with nature; there’s something about catching something wild and indifferent to your existence – it’s invisible and you can feel it, but not see it,' says Reynolds. Everyday she’d go outside to assess the rain, the wind and – after a while – see patterns in it. Silk pieces were drenched in heavy rain to produce a bleed print for broader coverage and, on lighter rain days, she’d aim to make more isolated prints. ‘It is more fun and very interactive but at times so frustrating,’ she says. ‘You can figure out the wind speed and rain direction and how that’s going to make a line on silk, but then something changes, a cloud moves; so many different things can happen.'
It’s not a project that seems an easy or commercial choice, but rumour has it that all those involved are up for future collaborations. It really is a small triumph of how a slow, natural, artisanal approach can interact with an open-minded high-street brand. And to all those meteorologists out there looking for an appropriate name for their next weather phenomenon, we'd thoroughly recommend Audrey Louise Reynolds. This woman truly is a tour de force.
Photographs Backyard Bill
Words Julia Jarvis