Monday, November 10, 2014

The Colourful World of Kaffe Fassett

I was recently lucky enough to catch the last weekend of the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at The American Museum in Britain. Kaffe Fassett is a textile designer, who a lot of crafters will know for his ranges of brightly coloured quilting fabrics with Rowan Fabrics, and his work with Rowan Yarns. He collaborated with the fashion designer Bill Gibb, has written a wealth of quilting and knitting books, and has also worked in needlepoint, ceramics, and painting.

I grew up with his knitting books around the house and have always admired his fearless use of colour, so I knew I had to get to this exhibition before it was gone.

It was a riot of vivid, intense colour, with paintings, quilts, knitted pieces, tapestry, fabrics and more on display. It was interesting to see all the different techniques mixed together. I also enjoyed seeing some of his paintings together with the objects he had painted.

I was particularly enamoured with the bordered diamonds quilt and some lovely colourful chairs.

I also liked this Japanese influences painting, and it was great to see the paint palette used for it. All those gorgeous colours! Sometimes I think the palettes end up almost as beautiful as the paintings.

As a child of the internet age, I liked that the amazing floral tapestries looked almost pixellated! The hollyhocks were incredible, they really had a lush, jungle like feel to them thanks to the dense stitching and clever shading.

I also liked how some of Kaffe's inspirations were included in the displays. I adored the miniature asparagus teaset! It looked like something a garden fairy would have. The embroidered effect flooring was impressive, and a great touch. Although it was pretty confusing at first! I was half expecting to step onto springy fabric and thread!

Kaffe Fassett clearly found a lot of inspiration in the shapes and colours of vegetables, and especially cabbages! Vegetables do provide a wealth of interesting and unexpected colour and texture to work with, so I suppose they make a perfect subject for a textile designer. The vegetable themed display ended up being one of my favourites, which I was surprised by, as it was one of the most subtly coloured.

So many colours were represented in the exhibition, and I felt they were displayed very well. The walls of the gallery were painted different colours and the displays were arranged in blocks of colour, creating very different moods. This yellow chair reminded me of the Van Gogh painting, and I liked the simple graphic style of the willow pattern cushion.

As someone who works in several different media myself, this was a really interesting and inspiring exhibition for me. Seeing how Kaffe Fassett has applied the same very recognisable style to everything from paintings to embroidery, and how each of these feeds into each other, was really quite wonderful. Aside from the personal relevance for me, I thought this exhibition was brilliantly thought out and displayed, with the different coloured walls and textile effect flooring really adding to what was on show. I left feeling so happy and inspired!

If you want to see more of what the exhibition was like, there is a great video here, which also has an interview with Kaffe Fassett.

The American
Kaffe Fassett


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