Fashion Narratives 2021: Zhi-Ying Li

The Fashions & Embodiment studio of our MA in Design: Expanded Practice are currently exhibiting their work at the Goldsmiths Textile Collection & Constance Howard Gallery, in a show titled “Fashion Narratives”.

Zhi-Ying Li, one of the students involved in the project, gives us some insight into the process behind the work on display:

“[As part of the brief] we were given a list of objects from the Goldsmiths textile collection with description, and we read through the document to choose one object for individual research.

It was difficult for me to find a starting point at the beginning of this project. We were given a piece of description about the chosen object without any visual resource.

I decided to start with learning to make Seminole patchwork because working with hands always provokes my thought. I didn’t want to remake a specific piece of Seminole patchwork. What I was trying to do was to understand the how-to-make process. I ended up find it fascinating because there was a logical structure.

After making the first one by following a tutorial video, I didn’t go on to the next video because the first making process made me start to think: ‘what if I change this element?’. It was kind of like the variable number in a math equation.

I started to experiment by changing ‘the variable number’ into different lengths, colours, widths, angles, etc… In order to make things clear to myself, I used simple code to document along the way. The coding system and colour combination turned out to be very interesting.

Although there’s no so-called outcome in the exhibition yet, I think these experiments could be a great starting point for my further research. This approach of interacting with an object from an archive was totally new to me, but it gave me a chance to see how text could be inspiring in the design aspect.”