ORIENTAL GATEWAY TO THE SILK ROAD
On the edge of the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia lie the Mogao Caves.
As the Eastern gateway to the fabled Silk Road, this area once teemed with grand caravans of camels, sometimes 10,000 strong, laden with silks, spices and exotic treasures.
The hundreds of caves were hewn from the sandstone cliff and painted with frescoes by Buddhist monks from as early as the fourth century. I was immersed in colour as I was guided through this UNESCO treasure by the resident university professor.
Seeing at first hand these vibrant floor to ceiling frescoes, sometimes called the Louvre of the East, along with the astonishing Rainbow mountains at Zhangye, provided me with great colour inspiration.
The naturally occurring chrysanthemum stone led to one silk print and scroll paintings of oriental trees, another.
Calligraphic shapes and old silk banknotes - beautiful artworks in themselves - plus old floral embroideries, gave me inspiration as did local costumes with their unusual curved seams and metal closures.
Most of all, the antique patchwork assembly robes of Buddhist monks I saw in Xi’an were so unusual and fresh to me, that I wanted to interpret them into design concepts for this collection.
I had a great treasure trove to draw from.