Pattern Power: Superstripe Festival
Anna Murray speaks about the evolution of Patternity and their month-long celebration of stripes
by Sabine Zetteler
Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham comprise Patternity, the two-person powerhouse consulting on pattern-inspired projects of various scale all around the world. After meeting through mutual friends they quickly realized that despite their seemingly disparate specialties—Murray's in photography and art direction and Winteringham's as a textile and product designer—they shared a strong aesthetic viewpoint. In 2009 they launched a website as a public-facing, highly-curated archive of patterned wonders, helping them become the go-to pattern specialists they are today.
Stripes can mean so many different things; they signal, divide, align, mark the beginning and the end and so many things in-between.
The duo aren't simply concerned with the visual appeal of pattern. Last year they held a day-long even with a group of autistic teenagers, which challenged them to create t-shirt designs inspired by images of different patterns found throughout the borough of Hackney, and their latest project, a festival called Pattern Power: Super Stripe, is organized in conjunction with the World Health Day talks that kicked off in London last weekend. Running through 21 April, the packed schedule of events aims to reflect Patternity's elements of research, design and education. "By choosing just one pattern—in this case, stripes—we have been able to structure our own pattern research and delve even further with our exploration of the positive power of pattern to connect and inspire," says Murray. "Stripes can mean so many different things; they signal, divide, align, mark the beginning and the end and so many things in-between. We've covered most stripes at the show whether that's in the subject of a talk, a workshop, something showcased at the Superstripe exhibition or even something to buy in our pop up shop and cafe!"
Their hands-on workshops with future legends like Bompas & Parr, Robert Storey, David David, Fred Butler, Margot Bowman and The Flower Appreciation Society will collectively transform the Londonnewcastle Project Space on Redchurch Street into a kind of modern day community center with a celebration of pattern as the unifying force.
"Patterns are something you come across every day," says Murray. "You wear them, you walk over them, you even eat, drink and think them and we believe that patterns are something that bind us together at a very fundamental level." It's through the practice of paying attention and noticing more of what's around us that perhaps the Patternity way of seeing can start to emerge. "Being more aware of life's pattern, we believe can become more mindful of the bigger picture and feel more connected to the greater whole."
The festival lineup is divided into an extremely diverse array of "Patternitalks" with scientists, musicians and journalists; interactive workshops wherein visitors can make their own patterns, as well as jelly or headdresses; "Sunday Sessions" demos highlighting pattern in the world; short film and documentary screenings in "Stripes on Screen; as well as a late-night live performance by Reallife on 18 April.
Murray tells us the festival highlights the incredible variety in their work: "One day I might pick up the phone and speak to a neuroscientist about the patterns in the brain, on another listen to a musician demonstrate patterns in sound. Everyone has been very receptive to this project, as pattern really does seem to be a universal language. We explore all these subjects in greater depth at our range of Patternitalks that we're hosting at Pattern Power where we have asked specialists across many fields to share their experiences about "patterns in practice" and how pattern unifies and shapes their individual specialties—from art and design through to health and mathematics."
Asked if they'd been obsessed by pattern since infancy, and Murray says, "I can clearly remember being encouraged to pay close attention to all the tiny details of plants and flowers as a child. My mum was a keen gardener and we had so much beautiful fauna around but we also lived in Hong Kong, wedged between towering skyscrapers, so there were so many contrasts within my immediate surroundings. I've always been obsessed with opposites—the micro and the macro, the mundane and the magnificent, the natural and the manmade. This has been a fundamental part of our Patternity working practice."
Patternity emphasizes the importance of not only simply seeing patterns around us but understanding how they're disseminated in the world to inspire us by creating these in-depth, analytical events like the Superstripe festival. "The more I've learned about patterns the more fascinated by life I am, our research has gone far deeper, looking to formations in nature and science that delve far beneath the surface of life," says Murray. "The most incredible patterns exist when you examine things up close or very far away to see how and why forms actually function the way they do. Nature is really the ultimate engineer."
Pattern Power: Superstripe runs through 21 April 2013 and tickets are available from Eventbrite.
Images courtesy of Patternity