On Authenticity

Yesterday I attended a study day at the Shetland Museum & Archives in Lerwick, it was titled, 'Authenticity in Culturally-based Knitting'. Authenticity is one of my core values as a designer and just as a person. The day of talks and discussion brought this into focus for me again. This post isn't actually about the talks rather what they brought up for me personally, it's also not going to have lovely pictures, I'm going to open myself up and let you know more about me because then you'll know my work better.

I used to write a lot when I was younger, my Mam encouraged us all to write and illustrate stories or experiences, she did the same throughout her life. While studying textile design my sketchbooks were more often than not filled with random scribblings, lists of words which had meaning for me and which came to mind when working on a brief or finding inspiration for a project. I used to let these words flow on the page without censorship as a way of discovering what connected with me most. I did draw and use photography quite a bit too but to get that sense of being true to myself I had to let the words pour out in whatever way they came forth. This was how I found my authenticity, how I tuned in to my instinct and the only way I could work. It wasn't always appreciated by my lecturers, I didn't explore a million techniques or materials but what seemed difficult for them to understand or accept was that I didn't need to, I did the groundwork for figuring out my relationship with a project or inspiration through writing. It was a wonderful feeling when I could then refine down to those select words which had the most meaning for me, like some kind of mantra.

Authenticity, truth, provenance, intuition, instinct, connection, integrity. Some of these were highlighted by the speakers yesterday in relation to culture and knitting, they are also extremely important to me in many ways.  I haven't really found my way with these blogs so far and after listening to all the talks yesterday I realised that's because I've been trying to separate Home is an Island, or at least the promotion/businessy side of it, from the rest of my life/myself. It just sunk in how ridiculous this was! I can't separate my work from all other aspects of my life and who I am. All my work, which people seem to have loved (I'm still getting used to that..), has been created by tuning in to my instinct. Forcing or pushing a direction never ends in an outcome I'm satisfied with, it has to evolve and it has to have absolutely, deeply personal meaning for me on some level. It's scary because it leaves me feeling exposed and vulnerable.

So now I'm sending this out there. I'll carry on every week or so writing a bit more about my life as a Shetlander (the islands are a part of me, almost like I grew up out of the peat and need the sea air to survive... hope that hippy-ish description hasn't put anyone off, ha ha!) and about my creative process, probably some other random stuff too. I'll be interested to know what you think. And, don't worry I will include some beautiful images and updates on my designs in-process!

I want to thank everyone involved in the study day as it was so interesting and has been a reminder to me to continue to live authentically.

The talks will be made available on YouTube I think, you can find more information here: http://www.shetland-heritage.co.uk/study-day-authenticity-in-culturally-based-knitting