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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Cockpit Arts Open Studio in Deptford

At the Cockpit Arts Open Studio event in Deptford last weekend Rachael Millar met up with a promising young designer called Emma Hamshare who looks set for big things.

Written by Rachael Millar

2London Undercover
If you’re looking for a quirky present this Christmas why not opt for an umbrella with a twist? London undercover is a new brand which specialises in quintessentially British umbrellas. With designs ranging from Full English breakfast and Café tablecloth, seek Fish & Chips wrapped in newspaper, there unconventional Union Jacks, and Hounds Tooth and Plaid designs there is something for everyone. Prices start at £40.

EJF_luellaEthical Justice Foundation
Giles Deacon, Zandra Rhodes, Allegra Hicks, John Rocha, Luella, Christian Lacroix, Betty Jackson and Katharine Hamnett have all designed exclusive prints for a collection of t-shirts in aid of The Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) produced on organic and fairly traded cotton and printed with organic certified inks. This great capsule collection of T-shirts are designed to help raise awareness and funds for EJF’s Cotton Campaign to end child labour and the use of dangerous pesticides in cotton production while promoting the benefits of organic, fairly traded fashion. Prices start at £30.

xmaslife72Mr P.S
If you’re looking to pick up something festive for the Christmas table in the coming weeks why not opt for this Cranberry themed 100% cotton tea towel, also available in Lime. Priced at £8.50.

mini-case-4-35373Paul Smith
As one of the UK’s forefront fashion designers it comes as no surprise that Sir Paul Smith has teamed up with computer software giants Apple to create a range of limited edition accessories just in time for Christmas. Pick up one of these Mac book 15” Mini Cooper sleeves bearing Sir Paul’s signature multistripe. Several products are available offered in a choice of sizes, fabrics and prints. Case pictured priced at £89.


If you’re on the hunt for a more meaningful gift to give this festive season why not opt for the Just Trade 5 a Day Brooch, a quirky vegetable brooch, handmade from organic Peruvian cotton. All brooches are hand made by the Zoe Project which provides training and fairly paid work for women living in some of the poorest shanty towns in Lima, Peru. Designs also available are corn-on-the-cob, beetroot, peas-in-a-pod, red pepper, cauliflower and broccoli. Priced at £9.

pleatedskirtcoverDIY Couture
DIYcouture is a fantastic website which publishes books that allow people to make personally tailored clothing without couture price-tags, and affordable clothing that has not been made using sweatshop labour. Each book teaches the reader to make one piece of clothing from the DIYcouture collection. The books are an evolution of and a step away from traditional sewing patterns. They use colourful computer designed diagrams and photography to guide novice sewers through the making process. Priced at £9.

file_2_6Matt and Nat
It’s not often that I write about the same brand twice in one week however, so impressed were we with their wares it felt right to include them in the gift guide too. After all which eco contentious fashion savvy woman wouldn’t want one of these on her arm? Pick up this vegan ‘Chi’ leather wallet with grey lining, tone on tone stitching, antique brass and copper hardware, and embossed MATT & NAT logo on front. Priced at £50.


Pants to poverty
Pants to Poverty is a new kind of underwear on a mission to rid the world of bad pants! These organic, safe sex pants are made from 97% organic and fair-trade cotton and 3% lycra and even come with a fairly traded French Letter condom made from natural latex – impressed yet? With £1 per pair of pants sold going to the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa (TAC), the money raised will support essential work empowering people to access lifesaving treatment in some of the worst affected regions in the world. Priced at £11.99.

All images courtesy of the brands written about, all there is left to say is Merry Christmas x
emmahamshare instudio2All images throughout courtesy of Emma Hamshare

Emma Hamshare is a designer and textile artist who graduated from London College of Fashion with a first and a scholarship to create her debut collection. After winning a place on the Creative Crafts programme at Cockpit Arts in Deptford she has begun to set up her label äelska from her studio space.

aelska shirt emma hamshareImage styled by Lorraine Bailey

Her inspiration, about it she explains, comes from phonetic units such as text or musical notation. “I spent a lot of time in libraries researching my graduate collection, and developed an interest in the theory of how we read words, and the interconnecting nature of all these symbols to form words or music.”


The resulting graduate collection was a mix of simultaneously delicate and strong lace collars, trousers and dresses. Emma explains she was interested in trying to manipulate a delicate material like lace to behave in a stiff nature. To achieve this strong yet fragile effect Emma uses lost of interfacing to create a thick, durable material. She then uses laser cutting technology to create the intricate lace like patterns. During this process the edges of the fabric become slightly singed with the heat, which adds a lovely, antique effect to the lace.

Lasercut dress Emma Hamshare

Her biggest selling items are the collars. “One woman came in and gasped, she said it reminded her of her childhood school collar.” Resembling Victorian items of this nature, the collars make a perfect addition to a plain top and come in either a rounded or pointed variety.

Emma hamshare toile

However the pièce de résistance is a pair of spectacularly huge trousers. These trousers were inspired by Emma’s research into perspective drawings, and the Bauhaus dances, in which the dancers wore large geometrically shaped costumes and as they twirl they resemble wooden tops spinning.

emma hamshare neck lace

Emma also designs T shirts complete with a black pointed collar printed onto the neck. She explains that she wanted to stick with the motif of the collar to gauge whether people would respond well to her aesthetic. “My mind works on a very grand scale, and my plans are huge” Emma admits, “so I have to be disciplined and start small.” However she is keen to experiment on a much larger scale in the future, and would like to move into public artwork. “I love the idea of the juxtaposition of minute and huge, minute intricate lace but in a huge sculpture.”

Emma’s collection of abstract yet pretty pieces strike a harmonious note, and a breath of fresh air in an industry saturated with middle of the road, safe clothing. I would wager äelska is a name to watch out for in 2010.


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