Creativity Corner Inspirational People

meet hormazd narielwalla

April 23, 2012

Today i’m very honoured to introduce you to hormazd narielwalla, a collage maker working with tailoring patterns as his source materials.

I met hormazd a few weeks ago when attending a jotta workshop that he was running. We hit it off straight away. I asked to blog about him so he kindly invited me to his studio.

Tell me about your studies. I have a bachelor of arts degree in fashion from the university of wales in newport. I then did my masters in fashion enterprise at westminster university and am currently doing my phd at the london college of fashion. I’m very fortunate to have earned the only international rector’s scholarship from the university of arts london at london college of fashion.

What made you choose tailoring patterns as your source material? While doing my masters, the tutors told me that i will never design clothes. It’s not where my strength lies. I was doing a little military project and researching into uniforms at the national army museum. The curator suggested i call dege & skinner in saville row to actually see them make a suit. I plucked up all my courage and phoned them up saying i was doing my masters and could i come and see them. I finally got through to the director and he said i could have an hour of his time. I arrived all humble and asked simple questions like: ‘what’s the difference between military and civilian suit cutting?’ I was curious as i’m not a tailor and wanted to find out as much as possible. While there, i saw a big folder with tailoring patterns. Upon inquiry it turned out these were 30 years worth of patterns for one single customer who had deceased. I was hooked and asked whether i could have them. It took a lot of persuading and that’s how ‘dead man’s patterns’ was born.

So now you had the idea for your final piece for your masters degree? Yes, in 2008 i produced a limited edition (100) artist book called dead man’s patterns. It’s a design story inspired by bespoke patterns belonging to deceased customers. The book was sold in shops like the v&a, the library, paul smith, claire de rouen and the shop at bluebird and every copy was individually printed and hand bound. I’m very fortunate that the book was also acquired by several art collections around the world including the rare british modern collection at the british library. The only copy i have here in my studio for you to photograph is in japanese as the book was also sold in beams department store in tokyo.

So, after you finished your masters, what came next? I went to work for dege & skinner for 3 years. I assisted the shirt maker in random jobs until i put in a proposal to write michael skinner’s biography. I used patterns to tell the story. It took me 18 months to put together and michael edited it. It was written in conversation style and the saville row cutter was published in 2011.

You had tea with sir paul smith. How did this come about? Yes, sir paul invited me for tea and asked me to exhibit in his mayfair street gallery and so in 2009 i had my first solo exhibition. For a study on anansi i combined the patterns with western african folk tales. Some of these images have now become my branding and i’m also looking to publish and print another artist book. I’m looking into the costs of producing it since it is an expensive layout. I’ve got a prototype here. Would you like to have a look?

You’ve had other exhibitions? I’ve been fortunate to exhibit in various places since my first show in 2009. There’s harvey nichols, the modern pantry, an exhibition in athens, scope art fair in new york, the crafts council, sheridan & co, brighton open house art.

You’ve taken tailoring patterns and created various art pieces. How interesting. How will you progress?  When i first stumbled across the patterns i knew i wouldn’t make a suit out of them. I got interested in the shapes, the scribbling marks, the lines and punched holes. I started looking at them as pieces of art. For now i’m fortunate that dege & skinner still supply me with patterns from deceased clients. I’ve also started to look elsewhere and recently obtained a job lot of patterns on ebay. I’ve used many figurative designs in my work. Lately i’ve been working on sculptures of skulls. Unfortunately i haven’t got any here to show you. For my phd i’m creating a series of sculptures called love gardens.

The next image is something Hormadz played with while i was there. He was interested in the shadow the various patterns were making while i was using the light for my photographs.

Hormazd, thank you so much for inviting me to your studio and sharing your art and journey. I’ve been totally inspired. I will now, with your permission, take some more images for my readers.

For those of you who live in the capital or can get to london, homazd will be exhibiting at the other art fair from the 10th-13th may 2012.

I don’t know about you, but i am totally fascinated by hormazd’s interpretations of tailoring patterns. In fact, he’s looking to bring a new view to tailoring patterns by seeing them as beautiful historical documents. I hope you enjoyed this interview and got some inspiration out of it. For me, it made me want to go and do a masters or a phd in order to have time to explore and research a project in great depth. What did it do for you?

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  • Reply annie April 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I’ve always thought of them as historical documents, like shoe lasts. How wonderful to be posh enough to have your own patterns. Reminds me of being a kid when my mum used to make our clothes and we got to choose the pattern. There’s something so lovely about that brown paper.

    Love stories of people re-using and re-inventing things like this.

    • Reply tina April 25, 2012 at 12:33 am

      Imagine that big folder H first got with patterns of the deceased customer. 30 years worth of suits….. talk about posh!

      Nice that your mum made you guys clothes.

  • Reply Homi April 23, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Tina, you are so sweet – thank you for dedicating a whole post to my work. I must say your photos are really good and it’d clear by looking at the rest of your blog that you have a natural sense of colour, lines, proportion and style…keep up the good work! Please do keep in touch,

    • Reply tina April 25, 2012 at 12:34 am

      Thanks Homi. See you soon. tx

  • Reply Chi @ Carousel April 23, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Great interview, Tina! I was just thinking what great shadows you’d captured in your photography when you happened to mention Hormazd making a similar observation. 😀

    I’m familiar with his work and I think it’s absolutely brilliant and definitely inspiring. I love the tangential nature of it; the fact that a certain starting point led him from one train of thought to a completely different and more fascinating one.

    There are so many layers to peel back in each of his pieces (graphic, sculptural, historical, etc.) – it really gets my creative juices going!

    How wonderful that you got to attend his workshop! I’d love to see what you made. 🙂

    I have a few projects that I’d like to explore further but I think I’d prefer to do so at my leisure and in a non-academic environment.

    I tend to work in an experimental way and it usually takes me time to arrive at a creative conclusion that makes sense to anyone but me!

    The Other Art Fair sounds intriguing – I’ll have to check that out. Thanks for the tip! 😀

    • Reply tina April 25, 2012 at 12:48 am

      When I first met Homi at the workshop I thought of you and how you would have enjoyed being there.

      I felt the same way as you about the inspiration of using tailoring patterns and going on to create such a variety of work with such interest and depth. Homi is full of ideas and as I interviewed him, he was firing off new ideas that sounded so inspiring.

      Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the skulls but they’ll be at the exhibition in May.

      I was in a real rush and couldn’t stay till the end of the workshop. In fact, I nearly didn’t go as I was really stressed for time but my gut told me to go and of course, now I’m delighted I went:)
      My piece is nothing special as I was aware I only had 20 mns. Homi was so generous, he brought patterns with him and gave them to us to work with. At least I’ve got that momentum here at home and I shall cherish it.

      I admire you for being able to explore and work in a non-academic way. I don’t have the time or motivation to really work on an in-depth project, while working, blogging and living…. a masters would facilitate this better and also give me accountability. I’ve been toying with the idea for 10-15 years and have to face facts that it is a romantic notion, but ain’t going to happen. Not sure the reality of it would suit me.

      I also work in an experimental way but miss the analytical and purposeful design route I learned in college. That’s what appeals to me in Homi’s work. There is the intellectual idea and then the experimentation.

      I’m going to go to the private view on the 10th May. Feel free to join if you wish.

      Be nice to see you Saturday. it’s been a while.

  • Reply Theresa April 24, 2012 at 5:30 am

    Tina, thank you so much for sharing Hormazd’s work and interview with us. As Chi aptly points out, his work has so many interesting layers to it. Hormazd has definitely had the opportunity to meet some interesting people on his journey. Pretty cool!
    I was also thinking the same thing: How wonderful it would be to return to school and fully, thoroughly engross yourself in a subject. I suppose I could technically do such a thing on my own, but sometimes having the discipline and structure of a school setting is helpful.

    • Reply tina April 25, 2012 at 12:54 am

      What fascinated me was that he rang up Michael Skinner (really posh tailor)and asked for a meeting, not knowing what the outcome would be… And he just happened to see the folder with patterns and then persuaded him to part with it. No mean feat!!!

      Dege & Skinner still supply H with patterns but now he also sources some elsewhere.

      I would like Sir Paul Smith to call and ask me for tea AND commission me to do an exhibition….. Yep, that would be cool:) but then who saw the Dalai Lama the other day????????

      Yes, I just commented to Chi about this…. wouldn’t it be great and also now we are mature students so out outlook and experience would be different. ahem….

  • Reply parisbreakfast April 24, 2012 at 11:58 am

    Amazing work…sooo creative
    merci carolg

    • Reply tina April 25, 2012 at 12:55 am

      Merci Carol:)

  • Reply Toni April 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Thank you for showing and sharing Homazd’s work it is truly remarkable! I’m especially intriqued but the way he has used t pattern to create his art! Amazing xxx

    • Reply tina April 25, 2012 at 12:57 am

      It’s such a unique take on fashion and rather refreshing… especially since he didn’t want to design clothes.

  • Reply Catherine Bedson April 25, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Wow love this original and Homazd’s story..especially plucking up the courage to call Dedge & Skinner in Saville Row. My dad whose now 80 odd still has a suit he had made in Saville Row when he was in his 20’s and wore it to my wedding 21 years ago! What a great interview Tina, I’ve always thought there was something special about old patterns.

    • Reply tina April 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

      Hey Catherine. ope you are well.

      Yes, the courage. I have lots of Chutzpah but am not sure I would have had the courage…

      Ahhh, talk about longevity of well made products. There really is nothing like it. How cool that your dad has had a suit made in SR over 60 years ago and it still fitted him 20 years ago. WOW. What an amazing story!!

      Men do have it easy. Fashion, what fashion. A suit is a suit. Perfect!!!

  • Reply Holly April 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Patterns as historical documents. Never though of them like that until now, and I must say I totally think that is correct. They truly are! Hormazd’s collages are highly intriguing and quite beautiful.

    I feel so lucky to get such a wonderful glimpse into his studio and his work. Thank you so much Tina. You’re always full of valuable surprises! Great content, great images! Xx.

    • Reply tina April 26, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Thank you love xx

  • Reply Nicola April 25, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    Tina! Thank you so much for introducing me to Hormadz Narielwalla’s work!

    It’s inspirational and I wouldn’t have come across it without you. I love paper patterns, the texture and the instructions and lines like an architectural drawing. To combine them in these pieces is wonderful.

    Great photos as usual too xx

    • Reply tina April 26, 2012 at 8:49 am

      I feel fortunate having gone to the Jotta workshop and discovered Homi.

      Thank you for your lovely comment. x

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