New to MHD is thoughtful and inspired label GEORGE. Conceived by Canberrian Georgina Whigham in response to finding plastic bags dancing in the wind, both beautiful and tragic - something so throwaway and replicable caught in a moment of nature, of air moving through space. The mass produced nature of plastic bags and this experience sparked her imagination.
Whigham seeks to counteract this idea of the throwaway object by drawing on the shape of the plastic bag, and its utility as an object to create a series of hand woven bags which, although exhibit similar characteristics - form the opposite in terms of consideration and labour through the weaving process.
Jessie Webb, our buyer for Monk House and Georgina sat down via the internet to discuss GEORGE in more detail….
Can you tell us a little about George?
GEORGE is an ongoing exploration of the relationship between object, material, and human interaction.
I'm eager to know how the bags are made, can you tell me more?
For this series, I hand weave each bag on a 4-shaft floor loom. I purchased the loom from Annie, an elderly lady living on the central coast who could no longer weave. Each GEORGE bag takes me around 8 hours to weave and construct. The bag is woven in one continuous piece, dropping the weft where textile is not required. This allows me to reduce material waste. I then fold the bag, much like origami, into its final form to complete the construction. I work mainly with cotton and linen threads and due to the handmade process, no two bags are alike. I source the yarn from a family-run mill in Canada which has a strong history in production of quality yarn. All elements of the product are made in Canberra, from weaving the bag, to working with local artist Clare Jackson to screen print the dust bags and swing tags.
What does your daily routine look like?
I work full time as an exhibition designer at the NGA so GEORGE is my side project. Weaving is labour intensive so I tend to work pretty organically, jumping between weaving on the loom, sewing, hand finishing bags and playing with ideas.
What do you enjoy about what you do?
Weaving is recognised as one of the oldest human activities, beginning over 6,000 years ago. I fell in love with the process, its significance across diverse cultures and its progression throughout history. I am privileged that I can use such an ancient technique to create modern-day items and continue this venerable practice. Weaving is very meditative so when I’m on the loom I find myself reflecting and really enjoy the solitary time. I love that I can begin with a single thread and create something that is unique and imperfect, unlike computer programmed woven fabric.
What is the inspiration behind this body of work?
A discarded plastic bag floating in the breeze was the catalyst for this bag series. I love the way a plastic bag dances, shifting direction without warning, gaining and losing momentum. I was interested in the notion of drawing from an object that is mass produced and disposable to create a product that is unique and of value for its craftsmanship and beauty.
And where did you acquire/ develop these skills?
I studied a Bachelor of Industrial Design with an exchange to Finland. Following this degree, I went to Kawashima Textiles School in Kyoto for a 3-month intensive course where I learnt traditional Japanese dyeing techniques and weaving on a 6-shaft floor loom. There is a strong design connection between Japan and Finland, so it was really interesting to integrate these two experiences.
What are your plans for the future?
Continue to diversify the brand. I have an exciting collaboration in the works for 2020, which I will share later in the year.
Studio photos - Zoe Spaleta - https://zoespaleta.myportfolio.com/
Installation photos - Madeleine Burke - www.madeleineburke.photo