Nelly Rose Stewart
Nelly Rose Stewart
6 November 2017
by Kendall Robbins
Nelly Rose is a recent the receipient's of the Artists' International Development Fund, a joint fund by the British Council and Arts Council England primarily designed to assist young artists and designers in developing their international careers. Here we ask her more about her work and upcoming AIDF project in Nepal.
Firstly congratulations on winning the Artists’ International Development Fund opportunity! Please tell us about your proposal and what you are planning to explore?
Thank you so much! I'm so excited and inspired that my proposal has been accepted!
I have proposed and will be travelling to work with the Janakpur Women's Centre specialising in Mithila painting, a traditional form of painting which is also a women's rights movement also known as Madhubani painting.
Originally conducted as wall art, it has now grown to be expertly applied by the women onto fabrics and papers. Handicraft creations as a means of women’s empowerment in a context of traditional male-orientated culture.
The idea is that, as a print and textile designer I will work to collaborate on prints, then work to translate these into textiles and other craft items which will then be designed as part of an upcoming collection supporting the centre.
You’ve been involved with British Council projects in the past – please tell us about those projects and how they have informed your creative practice to date. Will this also feed in to your AIDF project?
Yes, indeed I have! The Indonesian residency I completed was life changing for me and solidified my approach to living and working alongside artisan communities. Realising that I could use my art and print approach with ancient techniques changed the way I look at fashion forever, and my opportunities with the British Council have solidified my mission to work to preserve these techniques in my profession.
Please tell us more broadly about your work.
I am predominantly a print designer and textile artist. I create original colours and patterns to be translated onto clothing. I am also a women's rights activist and apply my prints to journalistic media such as zines.
My understanding of textile craft ranges from Songket weaving, to Mayan weaving on the backstrap loom as well as batik and Palestinian cross stitch.
What is important to you as a designer?
Integrity, authenticity, expression and a voice.
What issues do you want to address in your work?
The power of handcraft and cultural traditions, about luxury and quality in the form of economic empowerment.
Why do you feel collaboration is so important?
Through collaboration you can create twice as much impact, and it is rooted in curiosity and understanding.
In an ever changing world, we cannot just look to the future without honouring processes in which the industry has relied on in the past.
Why is an international perspective so valuable?
It is a way of life and livelihood, it is not just engrained in the past and materialistic value.
The topics explored in print and pattern are either rooted in nature and show an appreciation of resources, or in telling stories such as the Mithila women do.
What do you feel proud of/what do you want your work to achieve?
I feel really proud that my work ethic has resulted in a spectrum of international collaborations. Following this path and having support from organisations such as the British Council has allowed me to push boundaries and along with other artists unite borders.
What do you want to see change within the industry?
Whenever asked this question, I always state: Transparency; yet, as well as this, I'd love to see the element of story-telling change to be a part of high street brands' processes. It's integral to our understanding of context and remaining inquisitive to a garments roots.
I'd also like for labels to more clearly identify where a garment has travelled from, and who has benefitted positively from its production.
Tell us about other designers/sources of inspiration you’ve seen recently?
I find the presence of international designers at Fashion Week really interesting. It opens up a dialogue between so many different intersections of fashion, including modest wear, eccentricity of menswear, traditional textiles and techniques, and embellishment.
I was so inspired to read and see shows such as the 'Elephantasia' Show and the Fashion DNA Pakistan show.
I was also featured alongside other amazing designers on the BBC Culture: Designed platform detailing the strength of traditional dress and Arab Culture.
It's also really exciting to see the Fashion industry uniting over gender issues too, big brands are partnering up with gender equality movements; such as Gurls Talk which is what I am trying to achieve in my own platform; GLOBELLE.
Thank you so much for interviewing me about my print and textile work!
I look forward to the next steps of the project.
About Nelly Rose
Nelly Rose is a LONDON based fashion textile designer specialising in Print with a focus on global artisanship.
After graduating from London College of Fashion, Nelly is dedicating her creative career to a sustainable approach through encompassing and preserving the beauty of traditional global craft processes in her work. Such techniques are often lost in the throw away world of fast fashion. Nelly translates her textile designs into a range of products from accessories to installations with a focus on C O L LA B O R A T I O N.
A strong love of colour and a distinctive illustrative abstract style defines both her work and call for positive sustainable change. She aims to prove that you can create beautiful fashion whilst eliminating exploitation and without compromising on quality. The end result is a preservation and support of artisan communities, culture and creativity enabling the medium of fashion to be used for positive change.
Nelly recently collaborated on a modest collection for Jakarta Fashion Week 2016. Her strong heartfelt desire to connect with the original source of textiles bought her to the City of Batik in Indonesia to collaborate with Dian Pelangi. 3 months were spent creating the vision with artisans, combining traditional Indonesian process within her own abstract vision. True to her ethics, the collection embodies a fusion of modernity whilst cherishing existing culture. It has been developed using techniques such as Batik, Songket weaving and Dye processes these have been combined with her design aesthetic from London including graphic print and abstract typography. It is this combination of style and sustainable empowerment that generates powerful synergies and catalyses such unique hand rendered final outcomes.
Nelly likes to combine design with a broad spectrum of impact journalism that includes magazine publications, styling, film and creative direction. Nelly’s blog @loudsaidnelly keeps track of positive discoveries, and explores cross platform social campaigns.
Above all Nelly is focused on using her voice and creative work to create a positive global change within the fashion and design industry.