The inspiration and ideas behind the work

Paul Gazerwitz, of del Buono Gazerwitz:

I moved to Spitalfields in 1986 and I was lucky enough to move into a house that was occupied by a famous silk designer [Anna Maria Garthwaite]. She drew these wonderful watercolour patterns which were sold to the local weavers to recreate on silk. I didn’t know anything about her until I moved into the house and got a letter from English Heritage saying they wanted to put a blue plaque on the house. After a lot of research, it was amazing to discover the connections between what Tom and I do as landscape architects, and her work, and how she took inspiration from nature. It’s what separated her from people who just designed fabric; she imbued the fabric with something slightly supernatural. We thought it’d be nice to bring [her work] back to life and recreate some of that history.

Anya Gallaccio:

There seem to be a lot of parallels in terms of my feelings about this area and this idea of migration, and thinking about weeds really just being a plant in the wrong place. That idea of something settling and growing in a crack, taking root. The resilience and determination of plants to exist and thrive, and survive in conditions that might not appear to be ideal, seemed an appropriate metaphor for the history of the area. One of the things that I found interesting in particular about the designs of Anna Maria Garthwaite was that she was looking at nature. A lot of the plants she depicted were at that point deemed to be wild. They weren’t appropriate to put in a garden. That was the logic behind it; making a pattern from one of these fabrics and seeding the cracks. It will embed itself, it will establish.

Listen to an in-conversation with Anya Gallaccio, del Buono Gazerwitz and art historian, Dan Cruickshank:

Meet the creators

Who was Anna Maria Garthwaite?

Anna Maria Garthwaite began designing silks in the mid-1720s. Her celebrated textile designs demonstrated a profound understanding of the technical process of silk weaving and a skillful and naturalistic rendering of flowers and plants, prompting Malachi Postlethwayt to describe her in the Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce as the one who ‘introduced the Principles of Painting into the loom’.

Garthwaite lived in Spitalfields in the heart of the silk industry and this new commission illuminates the history of artists and makers in the East End of London, drawing connections between successive generations of migrants and artists/designers who have fueled the creative and economic life of the capital.

The installation process

Browse photographs

Photo © Brian Benson, 2016