The concept board: Alluring Arabesque

It all began at the orientation session, which was an introduction to our Botanical-themed project “Botanica”. We are to work in groups and brainstorm a theme and colour palette. Our homework – collect images in readiness for a group concept board.

First exercise – create a group concept board. My group is made up of the random bodies I was sitting with: Craig, Hanna, Lucy and Darcy.

Craig brought swatches of Indian fabrics and some Moreton Bay fig leaves and fruit. Lucy brought Indian decoupage ornaments with fine floral designs and some floral fabrics from home. Darcy brought a book of Indian textiles. I can’t remember what Hanna brought. I think it was fabric. I had printed out some photocopies of floral images I had taken photographs of with my iPhone – scarves and cushions and fabrics I’d seen at my local shops on the weekend. I’d also taken some close-ups of cacti from home. And images from Mum’s amazing collection of flower images

We discussed what we had brought and why we had chosen it. I like strong colours. Craig likes block patterns. Darcy had enrolled later than us so grabbed a book at the library before class. Hanna had travelled extensively to various middle eastern countries. Lucy suggested we pick a theme we weren’t comfortable with – to test and challenge us. Darcy thought that wasn’t a good idea, particularly if the theme went on for some time. So we worked on choosing a theme, and it came surprisingly quickly!

My desire for using strong colours married perfectly with Hanna’s love of eastern cultures – she described the black clothes of the women in the desert, and how when the winds blew, the fabric of their burqas would shift to reveal bright and exotic colours underneath. We saw pinks and oranges and ochres (and maybe turquoise and black.) We got excited by the idea of Persian motifs – or motifs from Iran, India, Turkey, Morocco. Other words we bantered around to inform our theme included “Islam/ic, Mecca, Orientalism, exotic, arches, doorways, mosque, repetitive, geometric, Arabic script, colour gradation, inlay tiles, hot, desert, dusty, mirage, shimmer, oasis, palm. And colours: (burnt) orange, (hot) pink, magenta, ochre, black, turmeric, gold.”

Our group homework was to look for images of Persian floral motifs, which we should bring to our next session.

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Arabesque Allure: the group concept board
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