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Project Bombyx

Named after the Bombyx Mori, or the silkworm of the mulberry tree, Project Bombyx is a series of silk twill, hand rolled scarves, designed and made in the north of England. The artwork inspired by my life and the stories of the people around me.  

 

Menagerie

 

 My grandfather was one of the descendants of Shaolin and whenever he got tipsy, he would start practising his "drunken fists", a form of martial arts in the courtyard, much to the amusement of the local kids. There are plenty of stories of my grandfather sitting in the communal village courtyard with the other retired men socialising with a bottle of beer. They would bring their prized pet birds, kept in ornamental cages, and put them side by side on a large makeshift table while they drank and chatted the late afternoon away. Their rationale to the ladies was that the birds needed to socialise too, but the women knew that they were just trying to show each other off. Menagerie was birthed from those stories. The oriental cranes representing the old village men and the circle in the middle, the ornamental cages they kept their birds in.

  

Chinoiserie

I grew up with porcelain delft blue plates, bowls, spoons and stools. In fact, my parents were so obsessed with these delft blue objects that I remembered trying to break them "unintentionally"  with my older brother so that it wouldn't  follow us to our new house.

 

 Bento Boxes

 

One of my father’s original customers were from Japan and he would make sure that I understood the cuisine and not embarrass him during business meetings by bringing my family to Japanese restaurants every Sunday lunch. Japanese restaurants were pretty rare then and I remembered him telling me that he had to force raw sashimi down and had to pretend not to turn green at the thought of it. My first order was a mix bento box of Nigiri sushi and Unagi rice and I fell in love with Japanese cuisine at the age of 7. I never realised how lucky I was to be served such exotic food at that age, but I do now.  

 

Optical Leopards

 

My mother is a woman who loves her animal prints. Zebra, leopards, tigers, you name it. This scarf is dedicated to her, where I tried to juxtapose a traditional animal print with a more modern optical illusion pattern. 

 Valour 

 It wasn’t easy walking away from 20 years of combined scientific education and career, and the act of Napoleon crossing the Alps resonated with me. The camouflage polka dots represented my old military training, Napoleon for reestablishing my love in design, the red and white borders my Singaporean heritage and V for valour, for courage in this brand new journey. 

  

Trompe L'oeil

 

The idea of woven textiles and embroidery has always fascinated me. However an actual woven knit wasn’t actually practical for the cooler climates. So I set out to design a Tromp L’oeil version of a woven knit and with digitally drawn embroidery. Why bees? Because it represented Manchester where I am based and it symbolises hard work above everything else. 

 Venus in the Fields

 

 

My mother used to sing and she made a career out of it (and also how she met my dad). What most people didn't know was that she was also an excellent flower arranger and did part time commissions while making sure I don’t sneak out of homework. The scent of peonies and lilies used to flood the room during those hot and humid afternoons. If our mothers are not associated with the goddess Venus, who else can?

 Neptune Ashore  

 

 

The opportunities that I got today were all attributed to my hardworking father. He ran a marine technology business and I remembered being brought to the pier where he had to take a tiny boat out to those ships anchored out at sea. Neptune is homage to my father’s marine heritage. 

 Ice Cream Paradise

 

One of my happiest moments was my childhood trip to Hong Kong where I was brought to an animal theme park as park of our holiday. I remembered swinging my legs, as I was perched on top of a ledge too high for me as my mother brought my favourite strawberry and chocolate mint ice cream in a cone. I never finished the strawberry ice cream by the way. It fell onto the floor while I was shifting in my seat to get a better view of the whale and its trainer. Maybe that’s why I decided the primary colour of this scarf to be pink.