Tulip by Neisha Crosland for Turnell & Gigon on Pendel sofa by Pinch
Velvet is lavish, luscious and loved at this time of year. Catwalks are crushed with it and our homes welcome it to keeps winter draughts at bay and to upholstery deep-seated sofas.
Aesthetically, velvet catches the light to give a rhythm to the surface and a sort of Chiaroscuro effect. The new Tulip velvet by Neisha Crosland has even greater depth due to the hand-blocked nature of the printing. It was also Neisha’s first ever textile print and makes a magical story
‘At school, I took an old sheet and dyed it pistachio green, cut out some stencils from cartridge paper, and bought some fabric paints. I made a silk screen, and printed my first textile not knowing that I would still be at it 39 years later - the design I printed was a Fritillaria TULIP, but as the checks seemed too tricky to cut out of a stencil I just decorated the flower head with stripes instead.
Twenty years later, on seeing the design that my mother by now had proudly framed, a friend of mine insisted on taking it to India to have some woodblocks cut of the design. She came back some months later with a few meters printed on cotton muslin.
Last year, when visiting my studio, Matt Gomez of Turnell & Gigon spotted this length folded up in a corner, and was so inspired by it and its story, that he took the original blocks off to Thailand to print the design on gold and silver velvet’
Perhaps something more than transient trends is afoot in the velvet revolution, because in uncertain times traditional textiles and cosy upholstery hark back to a bygone era, evoking comfort and warmth.
Country Life recently wrote about Victorian upholstered furniture, a la Uncle Monty’s drawing room in Withnail & I, examining the stylistically legacy of the lavish comfort of Howard-style sofas and chairs. This may be a chair too far for most of us, but velvet can look refreshingly modern even if touched by a little English eccentricity.
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Neisha Crosland inhabits planet pattern and her new textile is other-worldly. Imagine giant flying geometric rocket-like motifs, hand-stitched with glistening metal copper thread, raffia and appliqued velvet.
This Rocket jettisons about on a Hessian cloth. A theatrical looking embroidered sack cloth, full of vigour and dynamism.
‘The design inspiration is a collision of Ottoman crescent roundel textile motifs from the second half of the 16th Century and the early 20th century Russian Avant Garde constructivist and suprematist art of Malevich, Popova and Tatlin - together with a Leon Bakst costume for La Peri 1912.
The technique is inspired by an Egyptian cushion that I found in a local antique shop. Whilst embroidered on a rough farmer’s sackcloth, the glisten of the metal thread and raffia turns it into a rich and regal fabric, making Rocket a ‘noble’ embellishment of a poor man’s cloth.’
At a recent talk about her epic book Life of a Pattern at the Fashion & Textile Museum she described how as she came eyeball to eyeball with 15th and 16th century fabrics in the Ottoman Empire Textile gallery at the V&A and recounts just how utterly modern and bold they looked. She describes this as ‘my moment’ and her calling to study textiles and to explore the endless possibilities of a pattern.
As well as lavish curtains, Rocket can be hung like a kilim or tapestry against a wall, or even framed as artwork as Neisha has done in her own home. Available in one colourway - natural jute with coral colour velvet and copper/golden colour thread.
Available from Turnell and Gigon www.turnellandgigon.com
Browse Neisha Crosland collection here