Freeform floral figures bloom gently in a lunar landscape. Woven in Rajasthan and Pakistan, the Watermoon Collection has a subdued, grounded energy. It employs a combination of wool and silk with an earthy tonality and a lower knot density to deliver a soft, laid-back look.
For the Watermoon Collection, Dena Lawrence works with weavers in Jaipur, Rajasthan and Sheikhupura in Pakistan’s Punjab province. These weavers apply their technical expertise to translate her original artworks into softer interpretations, that have a multitude of interior applications. Sitting well in any modern setting, the reduced colour palette enables them to blend more easily into an interior scheme, complimenting surrounding furnishings, while still bringing the freeform energy of the original paintings to the space. By reducing the complexity and intensity of the original artworks, and by using a combination of wool and silk at a relatively low knot count, the Watermoon Collection offers calmer, more relaxed versions of Dena Lawrence’s original artworks, available at a lower price point than the faithfully rendered, all silk Firesun Collection.
Weaving in Rajasthan
The north Indian state of Rajasthan—incorporating the ancient cities of Jodhpur, the blue city and Jaipur the pink city—has an illustrious weaving history. Cotton flatweave dari or dhurrie rugs, perfectly suited to the hot climate of the Thar Desert, originated from this province and masterfully woven decorative camel girths are unique to the region. Rajasthan was also the base for the powerful Mughal Emperors that ruled much of the subcontinent between the 16th-19th centuries, who patronised the arts of miniature painting, architecture, extravagant costume, jewellery, textiles and carpets making in a global hub for luxurious goods.
India is now one of the largest producers of handmade rugs in the world. Its skilled artisan weavers, dyers and designers are highly accomplished at creating knotted pile rugs from artwork of any variety. Many work from home in diverse communities with widely varying cultures and languages.
Weaving in Pakistan
Once part of the much-travelled and romanticised 20th-century overland hippy route, Pakistan is situated at the crossroads of many historic trade and migration routes—from Central Asia, China and Kashmir, Iran and Arabia, Gujarat and Bengal. The region’s rich cultural mix has resulted in a wide range of textile traditions that stretch back millennia, as evidenced by woven madder dyed cotton fragments found preserved in the metallic salts of the Indus River.
Sindh mirrorwork and quilting; tie-dyed silk turbans and sashes; phulkari wedding shawls and Baluch embroideries; block printed cottons and highly decorative costume; all co-existed in the bazaars of Karachi and Peshawar.
Pakistan is more difficult to travel to today, but it is a major rug weaving hub, producing high-quality, handmade knotted carpets on upright looms for the global interiors market.
While Kashmir’s contrasting circumstances were the catalyst for the Firesun Collection, Dena Lawrences’ multiple experiences of traveling to many other locations on the Indian subcontinent, over several decades, have directly fed her artistic practice and her worldview. Since her mid-twenties she has spent many months touring Rajasthan and Kerala in particular, visiting spiritual ashrams, learning yoga techniques, meditation, breathwork and Ayurvedic practices. It was in the coastal city of Alappuzha, in the south Indian state of Kerala, that her initial invitation from a Kashmiri carpet seller to visit his country was procured and her journey into rug making was born.
“India has played a big part in my work throughout my adult life. I feel very attuned to the cultures I’ve spent time with there—their deep connection to the land and the arts—and I’m drawn to the beautiful scenery, the colour and the chaos. People there wear an explosion of colour, in contrast to elsewhere in the world.” - Dena Lawrence