Designers on your doorstep

Amy Graham

The Circle, or council, has been used by all cultures for thousands of years to gather human beings in equality for thoughtful speaking and deep listening. When the circle is made up of a collection of broken and discarded chairs – what does this say about society and our contemporary obsession with consumerism?

Artist Amy Graham has salvaged these objects from people’s homes and carefully tended to each of them using repurposed textiles and craft techniques. She wraps, stitches, weaves, darns and crochets, and in doing so humbly breathes new life into each chair, while at the same time allowing the object to reveal some of its history. Each chair is broken and worn, but not worthless. Through these playful, thoughtful, handmade interventions, Amy seeks to reclaim a lost sense of value in the things we own and the traditional skills that many of us have lost. The use of domestic materials like old clothing, textiles and chairs not only imply the human occupation of space but these objects also hold the memories of the people who once owned them. These universally familiar materials and techniques all work together, enhancing the connection between object, viewer and maker. The chair is a universal facilitator of communication. It is here, grounded, stable and inviting you to join the circle, sit down and begin a conversation. Even if that conversation is only with yourself.

IMAGE > Amy Graham, <em>The Circle</em>, 2021, wood, metal, plastic, vinyl, repurposed clothing and textiles, 85 x 200 x 200 cm. Image courtesy of the artist.
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Being at home in lockdown has made me realise how little we, as a society, value our things. People rarely repair, remake, reimagine objects anymore, rather we choose to throw away and buy something new. It has been really exciting for me to have the time to play with old things and recontextualise them into something new. Design doesn't need to necessarily be all about creating something entirely new. We can create exciting design using a mixture of the old and new, or entirely from old. We can use existing techniques that have been passed on from generation to generation and we can also blend them with new, cutting edge ones. There is so much potential and inspiration in what we already have in our homes and I have loved exploring these while home in lockdown.

While home in lockdown I challenged myself to try to only use materials in my practice that I already owned or could find on my property. This was partly born out of necessity but I was also increasingly frustrated with how much waste we produce. I was inspired to try to put things like soft plastics and old clothing (no longer fit to be worn) to better use rather than throwing them away. I have stuck with the concept and now have a very chaotic and messy studio filled with all sorts of objects and things that would normally have been discarded! It has been fun to sit with these materials for a while and figure out what they might become in their new life...

After spending so much time at home I think my design gem has just been rediscovering the potential that has been in front of my face the whole time in my own house.

We can use existing techniques that have been passed on from generation to generation and we can also blend them with new, cutting edge ones

I love the big beautiful bay window at the end of my kitchen where the dining table lives. It perfectly frames our panoramic views and the spectacular trees in our garden which are all currently in blossom. I love staring out this window when the wind blows and the blossom looks like snow. The space projects itself out into the landscape and has a deeply calming and nurturing effect.

Any little treasures made by my kids are favourite design objects in my house. Kids have such free and creative imaginations and anything is possible in their little minds. I have many fantastic objects that have been made with love just for me. What could be more special than that!

Best Banana Cake

  • 185g butter
  • 235g pl flour
  • 200g raw caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1.5 tsp bicarb soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 90ml hot milk

Heat oven to 170c/150c fan forced.
Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, continually beating about 1 minute.
Mix in the vanilla extract and bananas - mashing as you go. Dissolve the bicarb in the hot milk, add to bowl along with flour and baking powder. Thoroughly mix, scraping sides as you go. Put mixture into prepared tin and bake for about 45-55 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin and ice when cold. 

I love to top mine with lemon icing... delicious!!

Enjoy x

IMAGES [Top to bottom] > All images courtesy of the artist. Recipe image source: unsplash.

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Designers on your doorstep

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