Fabric design inspiration deep in the Delta
September sees the launch of my Delta fabric collection, inspired by the otherworldly Okavango Delta in Botswana. We travelled there in 2018 to glimpse the unparalleled wildlife, but it was the landscape of vast grasslands and intricate waterways that turned out to be the real show stopper. A wonderful wilderness that took our breath away, it was particularly spectacular at dawn and dusk.
Picture: young elephant in the channels
It's not difficult to be inspired by the Delta to design - you are spoilt for choice at every turn by plants, animals, birds and insects. The colours vary with each season from spectacularly rich blue and green of the wet season to the soft muted palette of ochre and sage of the dry and 'shoulder' seasons.
Picture: Kudu antelope
The main print of my Delta collection had to feature the leopard, even though we searched high and low to see them and only caught the briefest of glimpses. I like the fact that they often keep themselves hidden in plain sight and wanted to capture their mastery of disguise in my Through the Acacia Trees print.
One of the many surprising experiences of a land and water based safari, is how quickly your attention can drift from the elephants, giraffe and lion, to the much smaller inhabitants, particularly the many beautiful birds on the water channels. From carmine bee eaters, lilac breasted rollers and numerous types of kingfisher, to huge stork and eagles, the dazzling variety tunes your sense daily to try and spot them in trees, on reeds and in flight. In the Delta Collection I wanted to capture an abstract representation of movement of birds that would also work beautifully as a background neutral pattern that could be mixed and matched with other fabrics.
A trip along the waterways in a mocoro (a dug out canoe) was initially extremely daunting, with the thought of hippos and crocodiles sharing the same watery playground, but eventually you start to relax and trust what you are told, that they will stay in the deeper channels. Drifting at low level so close to the water brings you into contact with yet another world, this time of miniature frogs, dragon fly, tiny birds and the iconic water lilies - another pattern in the collection.
I hope one day we will return to the Delta, perhaps in a different season, but if we don't, lying in bed at night listening to hippos munching outside our door or watching the palm trees turn black against the pink sky are memories that will stay with me forever. I'm sure the Delta collection will expand over time however, as I have hundreds of photographs and sketches to work with - watch this space!