Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Celebration of Pattern and Creativity

Illustration: Surface pattern design, produced in Germany in 1939.

Pattern through the centuries has had so many meanings and so many ideals, connected to so many historical eras, social events, and individuals, that it seems sometimes that we forget that pattern can just be pattern for its own sake. Sometimes you really do need to celebrate pattern, just because it is.

Pattern of course is not limited to textiles, it can be found in the larger 'decorative' tag across all disciplines, from ceramics, to stone, from paper to jewellery, but it is with textiles that pattern has truly flourished and can be found in every possible area of human development, in every corner of the planet from the beginning of our textile use, whether people were using cotton, wool, linen, leather, to today's complex textile world, where the industrial textile industry is still dominated by pattern, as is the individual approach of hand production makers across the planet today.  

Illustration: Surface pattern design, produced in Germany in 1939.

Pattern is everywhere and so it should be. It is our first natural setting for creativity, whether we are doodling pattern on a scrap of paper for relaxation, or looking for pattern in our everyday environment, whether that be natural or artificial it doesn't matter. We naturally look for connections, for consistencies that we can bring together to form a pattern that will please us. We can use the forms of nature, the abstract shapes of our cities, we can use colours, lines, negatives, positives, we can drag ideas up from our unconscious imagination. 

What we do best as a species is to build on our observations of the world around us. We can pour in our natural creativity that comes with each and every one of us, adding to the mix of observation, producing work that is both our own as well as being borrowed from the environment around us. We can expand on just one point of concentrated observation and fill out that one point until we have a complexity of pattern well beyond that one focused moment in time when we noticed a particular flower or leaf, a particular paving stone or brick in a wall. This creativity is central to our being and it is what makes us so special as a member of this particular planet.

Illustration: Surface pattern design, produced in Germany in 1939.

Pattern is everywhere if you look for it, but it takes a certain perspective to find it. To open yourself to the world of creativity, opens yourself to so much more besides. Once you allow your creative core to flourish, as we all did when we were children, life can never really be the same again. What you find intriguing, others dismiss, what you shout loudly in exclamation, others find puzzling, what you celebrate, others find invisible. Although you might be confusing to others, you are never confusing to yourself. All of the world makes sense. Colour and line is everywhere, shapes and spaces make sense, and of course, pattern is simply everywhere.

The five versions of surface pattern work that illustrate this article were produced in Germany in 1939, but they have no names attached to them. This was done purposely so. I chose five anonymous pieces of pattern work, because, even though it is right that creative work should be apportioned to the individual artist concerned, it is also important that pattern should be celebrated as an outward projection of all of us, of the human species. Pattern is one of our contributions to the world. We see and admire the world around us and then translate that wonder through the funnel of our own creativity, producing another perspective of that world that is totally and uniquely human. It is something that should be endlessly celebrated, but rarely is.

Illustration: Surface pattern design, produced in Germany in 1939.

Creativity is a form of joy, a form of rapture in being alive and being able to interact with any aspect of the planet that you choose to. Creative individuals have chosen their path; they have chosen to alter their perspective in order to produce creativity. Although most see it as a form of self-expression, which of course it is, it is also much more. Each individual is expressing their own creativity, but they are also expressing the creativity of the species, they are helping to express the joy and wonder of human creativity for everyone, for all of those that haven't nurtured the creative spark that they held precious as a child, for the adults that feel awkward about expressing themselves creatively, or who have been told by unthinking others that they possess no creative talent. 

What this all boils down to is the fact that pattern is the expression of humanity, but it is also the expression of connectivity. We look for connections in our environment, we create patterns from those connections, but the patterns also connect all of us together as we all understand and share the result. We all love pattern and reproduce it endlessly in our homes, either through producing it ourselves, or buying it from others. In this way, we celebrate creativity and connectivity, even though many are doing so unconsciously.

Illustration: Surface pattern design, produced in Germany in 1939.

The role of the creative individual is vital to the health of the species. Without the joy and celebration of creativity and its constant injection of that joy and celebration into the mainstream of the human psyche, the species would quickly become little more than a collection of drones. Being an artist, designer, or maker, can be hard, it is not always the easiest of paths, but it is one that has its own rewards. To keep the health of the human species vital and positive, we need to maintain the health and positive outlook of the creative world that seems a task well worth doing and one that needs support and encouragement wherever it can be given. I hope that myself John Hopper, as well as The Textile Blog, helps to do this in whatever way I can.


pansypoo said...

i sure wis these could be revived. today's patterns suck,

Kit Lang said...

Indeed you do, John. Your blog provides inspiration for us all. :)

John Hopper said...

Thanks for the comments, much appreciated as always. I always hope that The Textile Blog helps out in its way, so It's good to get confirmation Kit :). I have always felt that those involved in the creative arts, in whatever form and at whatever level, are the lifeblood of humanity. To try and place them at the periphery of life, whether in schooling as 'extra curricular', or in life as 'kooks', seems to me short sighted, but creative people carry on regardless, so long may it continue.

Heather said...

Well said, as usual. The creative force is essential if the planet is to survive.

John Hopper said...

Thanks for your comment Heather. The creative community always gives me such positive confidence in their ability, their support for each other, and their own positive focus.

Texchanchan said...

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I am sorry, but I believe this site is over my head. But I won't give up just yet.