‘Etaka’ is Cecily’s projection of beauty amongst apocalyptic visions of a destroyed landscape. Situated in this “AWAY” place, somewhere between the utopian and dystopian wreckages of postmodernity. Considering her own place in the creative renewal of this catastrophe, her collection follows certain principles of wabi sabi, in that it is made primarily from recycled and natural materials “whose devolution is expressive and attractive.” (Andew Juniper-Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence).It is also for this reason I have placed emphasis on the handmade. Valuing the process of time serves both as a therapy and a protest against the voracious cycle of the fashion treadmill, which weaves obsolescence into the very fabric of its garments.
‘Etaka’ is the Ugandan word for the red earth in the Lugandan language. Having spent time in Uganda, one this that always stays with me is the rich colour of the earth, which settles as dust on every surrounding surface. It is as if the leaves and the branches and even the backs of animals have been “Sugar-coated in red”. Last year I spent seven months in Uganda and Rwanda working for Paper Fig Foundation, a small foundation that works to promote the local fashion industries in East Africa. It does this by providing training to women and girls as a way for them to earn an income and become financially independent. It also works to seek out local fashion talent and provide them with support and mentorship as well as providing them with a platform to showcase at regional fashion weeks. I have since been back on numerous occasions to continue my work there.
the gaze of a modern artist.
For my graduate collection, I decided to return to Uganda to work with Kanyogoa Mums group, an incredible group of women and single mothers from a large slum community in Kampala, to whom I previously was teaching pattern cutting and crochet. They helped me to hand crochet the pieces for my collection in return for financial support. I also worked with local artisans and craftswomen in Kigali, Rwanda, who worked on hand embroidery and accessories.