TEXTILE designers Karen Bruce, Suzanne Shearer and Andrea Williamson returned from Paris this week after taking part in an international Shetland Arts collaboration with a voluntary cultural organisation.
The three Shetland designers were chosen by Héléne Mansiat, a professional product designer who discovered Shetland when she was commissioned by Shetland Amenity Trust’s retail product project.
After months of preparation and collaboration with Shetland Arts and M Mansiat in Paris, with support from the SIC economic development department, the trio joined a group of 19 selected designers of creative product, to exhibit and sell their work at a contemporary market.
This kind of event has developed in Paris recently as a way for emerging designers to sell direct, for a public response to their new work.
All three Shetlanders are established contemporary textile designers and artists with different product styles. They all design and make original textile product ranges, commissions, and one off pieces of applied art. They have exhibited individually in many craft galleries and art galleries and sell through websites and also shops in the UK mainland.
Each develops their own creative business through research and development, group marketing, membership of Shetland Arts and Crafts Association, and taking part in many of Shetland Arts’ craft development projects and initiatives.
Hazel Hughson of Shetland Arts said: “This collaboration is about more than designers selling craft. The link with Heléne is so valuable to the project’s effect on their creative development. Her inside knowledge gives them the opportunity to develop their awareness of international markets and helps develop their own approach to design. They also spent time in Paris meeting other designers, researching new markets and promoting their work and their role as guests from Shetland.” The Shetland-Paris collaboration and the work of the Shetland designers was extensively promoted in posters, press and invitations in the weeks before, and the annual theme for 2008, “Weaving links and knitting connections”, designed to interest the press, was effective.
Suzanne said: “We were interviewed by a local radio station and met Japanese journalists who were interested in all our products. We also met a lot of people interested to hear about Shetland and our work.”