In her home studio in London, Rhona has been creating large-scale mixed-media paintings based on disease imagery which will form the basis of her digital knit designs and textile art pieces. In order to form the basis of her research she was provided with imagery through a collaboration with the Surgeon’s aHall Museum in Edinburgh. Rhona has been drawing inspiration from the textures, colours and imagery of diseases as such as silicosis, byssinosis, mesothelioma and dermatitis, all of which can be caused by unsafe textile processes and materials.
Drawing on research into textile-related damage and disease, her project draws inspiration from the textures, colours and imagery of the diseased body and translates these into knitted textiles.
Using a mix of oil paint, pastels, acrylic and ink Rhona explores the diseased body through experimental mark making and detail focused studies which lend themselves to be developed into digital knitting. She plays with shape and form through exploratory collages using scanned and printed sections from her paintings which form the basis of her textile art responses.
In the most recent lockdown, the RCA college has been closed to both staff and students, and access to industry standard large scale digital knit machines has been impossible. As her work uses jacquard and experimental knit structures that cannot be recreated by hand or on a basic knit machine, she had to find a way to adapt her design process so that she could continue to work. Using an electric domestic machine and Design a Knit software she has developed a unique style and is continuing to adapt her designs for this new working method.
By using the medium of knit to represent such an unsettling subject, Rhona aims to highlight toxic fashion practices as well as challenging perceptions of knitted textiles as a medium of artistic expression.