The natural world is inspiration for British textile designer, Jennifer Robertson, whose jacquard woven Silk Banksia, displays the vibrant color and luminosity of the Australian wildflower, banksia.  As the designer states: “The design is an exploration of the poetic language between silk, flora, and human sensorial experience with interior space and the natural environment.”

Robertson admits being drawn to the rich artistic and technical historical periods of 13th-18th century European woven textiles. In fact, she designed Silk Banksia while studying Jacquard design and weaving at the renowned Fondazione Lisio Arte della Seta  (Lisio Foundation) in Florence, Italy in 2005. The Foundation is dedicated to the preservation of Renaissance textile processes and offers classes and residencies for making silk Jacquard, damask, brocade and velvet on ancient looms.

Few textile workshops or studios other than the Lisio Foundation could replicate this unusually fine weaving which comprises over 16,000 silk warp ends in a 150 cm width achieving a density of 110 ends per centimeter. After Robertson made a prototype at the Foundation in 2007, the Bianchi Company in Como, Italy wove the textile.  By reducing the number of colors in the textile to only five, she creates restraint without losing detail.  The surface effect is electric, and the copper glow of the textile mimics the actual flower when light grazes the textile’s surface at just the right angle.

Detail of Silk Banksia

Jennifer Robertson is a lecturer in the Textiles Workshop, School of Art, Australian National University.  Born in England, she studied at the Royal College of Art and moved to Australia in 1986 where she established a studio practice with her husband producing wearable and furnishing textiles.

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