Weaving DNA is a collaboration between the Icelandic product designer Hanna Dís Whitehead and Scottish textile designer Claire Anderson.
Together they re-appropriate traditional Nordic and Scottish textiles, examining the ways in which these represent and shape aspects of national identity.
The exhibition describes the duos exploration of the potential to create a common material identity drawing on the Nordic/Scottish regions shared cultural, historical and geographical roots. Together they forecast the identity of a futuristic Nordic-Scottish tribe, inspired by its Viking heritage. The Nordic–Scottish tribe emphasizes the designers shared influences, as well as DIY conceptual strategies that favor the spirit of immediacy, craftsmanship and sustainability. They provoke audiences to reflect on their identities, suggesting visions of cultural fusion and evolution. By showing a series of layered textiles – from handcrafted to digitally printed – the designers reflect on the complexity of the multi-layers surrounding definitions of identity with a play on ‘dress up’ at the National Museum of Iceland.
The textiles explore the qualities and differences of Icelandic and Scottish yarns juxtaposed against a range of materials from local fishskin leathers to recycled plastics. By responding directly to the materials and eschewing the familiarity of traditional textile techniques (e.g. knit, weave), the designers manipulate, deconstruct, knot and stitch a visual identity. Exhibition pieces include a tweed fish skin mask, an Icelandic wool and recycled plastic cape, a Viking plaited Scottish wool head piece, an Icelandic wool Highlander kilt, a Celtic heart t-shirt, an Icelandic Wool infinity sweater and giant Icelandic and Scottish pompom totems.
Weaving DNA is also an investigation into collaborative practice between artists physically separated by Geography - Hanna Dís Whitehead lives and works in Reykjavík, Iceland while Claire Anderson is based in Glasgow, Scotland. The artists first met in September 2014 after the initial research and development phase had begun. Therefore the exhibition is also a visual dialogue between the designers over a period of 18 months, having met only once in this time.
All photos by Tian Khee Siong