Pidgin Plait No. 1 Black
Plaited palm leaves
Using plait as both process and metaphor, my research explores how the craft traditions of two diverse cultures – those of Uganda and the UK – may be revisited, recycled and re-envisaged to develop new, natural, sustainable and ethically produced materials for the fashion industry.
Working with a group of women in rural Uganda, I have developed a series of plaited braids for use in Western accessory production and other craft contexts, which provide an income for a community in need. In creating a product which is adaptable to different trends, these plaits eliminate the widely recognised problem of artisans’ understanding of remote markets, while retaining local cultural relevance.
A fascination with the role of texture and surface irregularity in many traditional African artefacts prompted exploration of this phenomenon in my practice and in plait development. The commerciality of the ‘hand of the maker’ as demonstrated by non-uniformity has also been an area of particular focus.
Through the process of coming together to plait, the women makers in Uganda have become stronger and more resilient to the challenges they face in life, building social capital.
Collaboration: Eyesiga Mukama Craft Group, Bulange, Uganda
Higher DATEC Diploma, Fashion Design, London College of Fashion
Designer-maker (accessories), London, 1995-present; Head of Fashion and Millinery, Kensington and Chelsea College, London, 2001-present; Visiting lecturer, Royal College of Art, London, 2002-6; Visiting lecturer, London College of Fashion, London, 1997-2002
Hats: An Anthology, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2009; Research RCA, Royal College of Art, London, 2009; The Cutting Edge, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1997; Dressing the Century, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 1996