Hello, my name is Katerina Knight. I am a Textile Designer and during August and September I was lucky enough to work as the artist in residence in the gardens here at Winterbourne. Having grown up in Birmingham I have fond memories of visiting and have always seen it as a very sacred tranquil space in the heart of a bustling city.
My studies have taken me to Scotland where I trained at The Glasgow School of Art and following this I have worked both in London and Stockholm. Returning back to Birmingham for this summer period I was extremely enticed to work in some form with Winterbourne and use the gardens as a source of inspiration for my latest collection of textiles.
My practice connects the natural world with contemporary materiality, drawing upon the delicate ephemeral beauty of flora and fauna and preserving this through my textile designs. Whilst working with sustainable and ethical processes. With specialist training in printed textile design the body of paintings and drawings I produced over this two month period have been further developed in my studio into a new collection of textile prints for fashion fabrics, The Winterbourne Collection.
The Artists Garden, a Woman’s garden…
With a personal interest in the role of women within horticulture I was initially drawn to Winterbourne due to the original garden being designed by a woman, Margaret Nettlefold. Through challenging times of gender disparities horticulture has offered a safe space for women to flourish. The garden presented the opportunity for women to enter academic fields and gain acceptance, where scientific and artistic realms intertwine. Representing great beauty and decoration but also an ecosystem requiring a wealth of knowledge and sensitive touch. Nettlefolds designs were very much inspired by Gertrude Jekyll, a pioneer in garden design. Her ideas were revolutionary, connecting artistic, scientific and philosophical disciplines.
Before beginning my residency I had the special opportunity to view artefacts from the herbarium archive along with some of Margaret Nettlefolds watercolour paintings, as she was an avid artist. This as incredibly inspiring and influenced my own painting during the residency.
A Journey through the gardens…
Initially I felt overwhelmingly inspired by the vast amount of visual pleasures in the garden. I wanted to capture everything I was seeing, and savour every moment, but this felt almost impossible. However, when I took time to just sit with the garden and take in my surroundings I understood whilst being so vast the gardens are actually made up of many smaller spaces, gardens within a garden one may say. Secret passageways leading to small hideaways to seek moments of peace and solitude, allowing you to really connect with the garden on a personal level. The gardeners’ clever use of colour borders helps create this feeling of personal immersion. Margaret Nettlefolds influence of Jekylls theories on colour drifts within a garden (along with many other elements) are still clearly evidenced at Winterbourne today, paying homage to both women. As a textile designer the use of colour is something that really resonates with me. Thus working with hand mediums of drawing and painting and digital photographic and filmic forms I have attempted to replicate this relationship between colour and intimacy to evoke a sense of calmness and harmony in my designs.
Bringing nature inside, the textiles inside Winterbourne House show the influence of the garden. Bringing natural elements indoors through repeated patterns on soft furnishings that incorporate elements of flora and wildlife was prominent in the arts and craft era. To be always surrounded by nature in some respect, even inside the home. For this collection I took inspiration from a visit to The Museum of Domestic Design in Middlesex, where I viewed pieces of The Silver Studio archive dating from 1910 to 1940 where women designers such as Winifred Mold created an extensive portfolio of floral textile designs for the studio.
One of my most treasured memories I will take from this residency is observing how visitors interacted with the garden. Often finding secluded spaces to position myself for painting whilst I worked I would overhear snippets of conversation from passers by, children playing games running free and wild in the garden, and the sounds of wildlife. Winterbourne really is shared and cherished in so many ways. Working in the garden has been a complete sensory experience, bringing my studio outside I have personally benefited from the positive mental and therapeutic remedies of spending time amongst nature. I hope that this feeling of tranquil serenity has been imbued through my designs.
The garden as an educator…
Over this two month period I have observed the garden evolving. Flowers bloom, flowers die. The gardeners construct a well curated setting but nature ultimately leads its natural course. I have learnt that the garden is one of our greatest teachers. As humans we endeavour to seek perfection. However, perfection can never truly be achieved, nature will always ultimately lead its true path. That is not to say there are not moments where looking at a garden you may feel perfection has been achieved, flowers blossoming and complementing one another, form, colour and structure aligned in perfect harmony. But the next day this will never look the same. The garden constantly evolves and whilst these moments are beautiful we can not be precious with holding onto their perfection. Like I find in my own textile practice, the true pleasure is in the process of its creation.
Katerina is about to embark on her masters in Textile Design at The Royal College of Art London. A series of limited edition Silk Scarves from The Winterbourne Collection will be available to purchase from Katerina directly from her website, through the link provided below.