Julie Ryder: Reflections on Charles Darwin’s South Pacific

Australian textile artist, Julie Ryder, analyses transcultural encounter in her research project, Generate/Regenerate. This project features in Cultural Threads: transnational textiles today (ed. Jessica Hemmings) and Julie Ryder presented her research at the Cultural Threads symposium held recently in London.

Generate/Regenerate is a project inspired by the Charles Darwin’s explorations of the South Pacific in 1831. Ryder’s project references the 18th and 19th century fascination with scientific exploration, specimen collection, and the ‘exotic other’.

Ryder’s design process resembles the specimen collection undertaken by Darwin during his explorations; she has meticulously hand-punched leaves (her specimens) before carefully applying them to tapa cloth in intricate floral compositions.

Generate: Emma Darwin

Generate: Emma, Ryder, J. (2008) Hand-punched leaves and Tapa cloth (detail)

Generate consists of a triptych of portraits of the Darwin/Wedgwood family. Each portrait references the intermarriage within the two families, as well as the interactions between the South American and British cultures.

Generate: Emma Darwin

 Generate: Emma, Ryder, J. (2008) Hand-punched leaves and Tapa cloth

Regenerate is the second part of the research project, in which Ryder transforms the Generate designs into repeat digital textile prints. The final designs are directly inspired by floral textile designs from the nineteenth century, whilst the restricted colour palette references renowned Wedgwood Jasperware pottery.

Regenerate: 1859

 Regenerate: 1859, Ryder, J. (2008) Direct digital silk print (detail)

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