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Winter in Yesnaby | Lookbook

I love nothing more than nosing at other brands lookbooks. I always think that they add a story to a collection. We toyed with the idea of shooting the products in the studio, but in all honesty the light just wasn’t good enough! I based the collection on winter light, so we took the products to a place best known for its light- dried grasses which seem golden, and water that can either be Mediterranean in colour, or blackish blue.

Yesnaby is on the West mainland, and has some of the most spectacular cliffs in Orkney. They almost seem to roll towards the sea, so it’s quite difficult to see the edge (a good reason to stay well away!) They’ve been etched away by the growling tide, and most of them have formed unnatural looking curves, which project the sea up and over the headlands. The cliffs here are so old, it feels like your walking on ancient land with its red tinted soil and loose rocks scattering the surface. It’s quite an eerie place to me, which is why it felt like such a good place to shot the collection. I didn’t want to photos to be too romantic, so a rugged and raw landscape suited the aesthetic we were aiming for. It’s such a delight to put our products out in the world, and seeing what they look like in their surroundings. I find it fascinating that the colours from around us end up in the products themselves. Even the yellow, which I was worried would be too bright, settles in to the dried out, wind battered grasses.

I ventured out early on a Saturday morning, along with Akmal and Jack who had been roped in to take photos and model scarves. The wind direction was good, and although it was blowing softly, it looked like a good day out towards Yesnaby. The sun hadn’t come up yet either, which we wanted to avoid for as long as possible. Somehow having the rising sun amongst the cliffs just didn’t seem right.

When we got to Yesnaby, all loaded in Akmal’s car, the wind was blowing a gale. The water was an inky blue, and was thrashing the cliffs. We were all surprised. There were a few other brave walkers out on the cliffs, but most were hunkered down in their cars. We braved the weather and ventured down the paths leading to a sheltered bay. The sea was so rough, it had foamed up and turned white at the base of the cliffs, creating a foam that came in gusts like snow. It was all so surreal.

Every time I go to Yesnaby, I am acutely aware of how dangerous the cliffs are. They always make me feel so dizzy even going near the edge, so we avoided it all together. As we got down to the bay, we were a little more sheltered, and the beach was covered in heaps of red seaweed. A perfect photo opportunity. We enjoyed putting this look book together as it was a chance to merge pictures of the landscape within the products shots to tie it all together.

In the future, we’re hoping to use a film camera for our look books. Jack is an analogue photographer, so next time, when the weather isn’t so rough, we’ll be using film. I love the graininess of these photo’s, it’s like you can almost sense the force of the weather in them. So take a look below, and let us know what you think!

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Welcome to my first journal entry! I wanted the journal to be a place on the website where you get to see behind the scenes. I’ll be keeping you updating with my weaving progress, loom search, my inspiration and places to visit amongst other things.

As an avid reader of blogs, I thought this would be a good time to start my own. With the Crowdfund campaign now coming to an end, I thought it would be a good chance to introduce myself and make this my official first post. 

So hello! I’m India Johnson. I didn’t take the usual path to weaving, as I studied Fine Art at Newcastle University. I specialised in painting and printmaking, but my designs often found themselves on textiles. After graduating in 2018, I began to look further afield for where I might like to end up, when I found a Graduate Weaving Placement in Orkney (possibly the furthest place I could’ve gone!) I’d never been up to Orkney, but I loved the sound of the remote and wild landscape, and its ties to tradition and their strong heritage of textiles. Commercial weaving had all but died out, and the placement sought to revive the tradition through teaching hand weaving. I joined Orkney Creative Hub in October 2018, and the placement with ScotGrad lasted a year. After teaching my own programme of workshops in the Loom Room, I knew there was something about weaving that I absolutely loved.

After the placement had finished, I decided to stay up in Orkney. I love living on the island, and it continues to inspire me everyday. Having a background as an artist, I find it’s an amazing place to paint and draw, and this will always be something I continue to do alongside my weaving. I still teach hand weaving classes freelance which I love, but my passion is commercial weaving, and how it can be made more sustainable.

So began the thought to start my own weaving company. I wanted to create contemporary textiles inspired by the place I live, but with sustainability in mind. With so many of us becoming increasingly aware of where and how are clothes are made, I thought this was the right time to get Orkney Cloth off the ground! I wanted people to feel like not only were the investing in a quality product that will last, but also contributing to a wider purpose- investing in the skills and craftsmanship which go into weaving.

I’m passionate about sustainability, and can’t wait to develop Orkney Cloth into an exciting social enterprise, where our mission is to produce contemporary textiles with as little impact on the environment as possible. I’m hoping that by reviving weaving, we’ll encourage others to follow suit too, and train and educate people in the importance of this amazing craft.

And so we’re up to present day! Thank you for taking the time to read my first journal entry, they’ll be many more to come so keep an eye out. I’m so excited to keep you updated on the journey to find a new loom, and all the other exciting things that are coming up this year!

Love, India x