How do you define energy?
It’s like air, you can feel it but you can’t see it. It’s intangible but drives anything. African drums thrive on energy, the rhythm is guided by the crowd and the kinetic energy between performers driven by creative impulse. The impulse is both the drive, and the end product– it goes out into the audience, is fed back to the artist and transforms, taking on new meaning with each exchange.
Driven by impulse, Gwaride came from acts of collective creation. In the beginning I started by looking back at previous collections, wondering how to explore our story in a different light. Looking for inspiration,I sat down with Kenyan artist Longinos to discuss his process. We talked about life and art and the process of creation, eventually turning to our love of complex shapes and patterns:
“I work with geometric shapes, and when people look at them they talk about precision, like a machine made it. But it’s not perfect, the eye and the mind interpret it as perfect, but there is always one element that goes against the grain”, he says.
It’s fascinating how reality transforms through human perception, and in his piece “Barbed Wire, Crown of Thorns” he weaves a crown of thorns out of barbed wire and places it in a glass box. He illustrates that even the most industrial of materials can be fragile in the right context, and how that tension creates new meaning.
This idea formed the base of our custom prints. We layered continuous strands of barbed wire with bold lines on crepe silk. The interplay between bold, sharp lines and delicate silks and embroidery is a running theme throughout this collection. That’s why we settled on Gwaride as the name of this collection, meaning ‘parade’. Through collaboration and sharing we’ve created something that embraces the energy of collective creativity, in the same way a parade is celebratory in its collectivity.
With Gwaride we celebrate our East African legacy by combining inspiration from the placement of Maasai beading and modern Kenyan art to create a transformative collection that is gender-inclusive, innovative and most importantly...fun! As with all our collections, sustainability is central, and we strive to shine a light on African artisans who are evolving traditional production in new and exciting ways.