It's also inspired by the work of the artist Yinka Shonibare, whose work riffs on colonialism, class and heritage. This is one of his.
|Dressing Down by Yinka ShonibareMBE 1997|
These prints which although popular in Africa, and sometimes called Dutch prints because they are exported through Holland, are really European, and inspired by Indonesian Batiks. Why Indonesia? Well, Indonesia and Java were part of the once great Dutch empire.
I think the UK appropriated Indian paisley patterns in much the same way, as well as stripping India of it's textile industry in the nineteenth century by the application of trade tariffs in order to build up our northern cotton mills.
Wax prints are the brightly coloured cottons used in West African fashions. If you live in a big UK city you probably have a shop near you that sells these, although the internet has made everything available to everyone.
This trade, where goods zig zag across the world - the cotton might be grown in America or the Far East, the cloth is woven and printed in Europe, and shipped to another continent for sale is an example of a very global trade.
And it shows that globalism which has without doubt resulted in massive instability (hello Brexit!) has been around for as long as people have traded. Just this week, finds at a dig at near Peterborough dated 1000BC have included pots and beads from the mediterranean. And of course it is natural, to exchange goods and ideas and having one thing inspiring another. We are all mixtures of a million different influences, from French delis in Hackney to yoga retreats in Norway to Mexican pinatas at children's parties in Budleigh Salterton.
But some of the worst features of global trade strike me as a kind of hellish pyramid scheme where Britain has been happy to be a player until recently when it lost the whip hand (see what I did there) and got knocked off the top of the pyramid. We now seem headed straight for the lowest wage possible society where no one has any job security at all...
I am sorry this has seemed so muddled. There is I am sure space for an in depth study of all these wonderful fabrics. Some of the prints are phenomenal. But there was another reason for this post. I am at YALC (Young Adult Literary Conference) in London on July 29th and have given in to dressing up pressure....as my book The Curious Tale of The Lady Caraboo is set in 1819 I thought a regency style frock in a wax print might just cut it....
If you're lucky and it's not too embarrassing I will post photos....