The Growing Square (2016)
150 x 150 x 120 cms
silks, linens, cottons and polyester mesh
Deepa Panchamia works mainly in shades of white creating sculptural and architectural pieces. Her precise sewing transforms the fabric into hundreds of geometric shapes to create installations that are precise yet ethereal.
What is it about textiles that appeals to you?
I love that there are so many ways you can work with it. There are no rules. You can cut it, fold it, sew it, weave it, pleat it. I feel like I have complete freedom when I work with the material.
How did you learn your techniques?
I studied Decorative Arts at Nottingham Trent University. It was an Applied Arts degree and we spent the first year experimenting with different materials such as paper, wood, metal, ceramics, glass and textiles. During the second year, I specialised in textiles and paper. We weren’t taught any specific techniques, but were encouraged to develop our own with the materials we had chosen.
How do you describe your work?
Textile sculptures, installations or wearable art – I like using textiles to create three-dimensional structures.
Why do you use white?
There are many reasons. I love the subtlety and beauty of white translucent fabrics. There are so many types of white and I love the subtle differences between them, some of my sculptures are made up of 15 different white fabrics! A neutral colour also allows us to focus purely on the sculptural and structural qualities of the piece, rather than be distracted or overwhelmed by overpowering colours.
Do you ever use other colours for your sculptures?
Yes — I’ve used metallic silk organza in my earlier works, so there’s been a slight hint of golds seeping through some of my sculptures.
Recently I’ve begun to create a series of sculptures and wearable art forms in Black. This has been a big step for me, after 10 years of solely using white tones! Although the majority of my work will continue to be white, I’m excited about exploring this new tone, at the opposite side of the spectrum.
Where are you based and do you have a studio?
My studio is based in Fiskars Village in the countryside in Southern Finland. I moved here four years ago and absolutely love it!
What prompted the move from London to Fiskars Village?
I guess it was a combination of curiosity and opportunity. I had undertaken two artist residencies in Fiskars Village before moving here. I really appreciate living among other artists that share the same values and lifestyle as me. I also love being surrounded by nature, it’s a great place to purely focus on my work without any distractions.
Can you talk us through how you make one of your sculptures please?
I start by drawing, sketching, writing and making samples. I have a sketchbook and mood board. Everything is done simultaneously, sometimes I make paper models as well. I don’t really design my work, but my sketches or samples are there to inspire me. There’s always an element of surprise when I actually start making the final sculpture, as the piece gets bigger, it grows and bends in unexpected directions, so I work with what I see and just let it evolve. It’s an organic process.
It’s a hard question but how long do they take?
Around three to four months. However some of my works are life-long projects, growing and evolving forever!
What inspires you?
Natural formations, architecture and man-made structures. And then the fabric itself. What drives me is to find new ways to manipulate the fabric.
What advice can you give aspiring textile artists?
The most important thing is that you do what you love and what inspires you. Keep going and keep being creative. There will be ups and down and challenges so you’ll have to keep yourself motivated. In the end, if you enjoy want you’re doing, it will never feel like work!