lifestyle

Voulez-Vous: This woman's art is the definition of a "labour of love."

Samorn Sanixay.

Welcome to Mamamia’s art endeavour, the Voulez-Vous Project. Every week we celebrate emerging artists, designers, illustrators, creators and women who knit using their vaginas. (Kidding. Maybe.)

The aim: to make the internet a slightly more beautiful, captivating, or thought-provoking place. To find out more about the Voulez-Vous project, click here. Click here to see all the previous Voulez-Vous posts.  

This week’s featured artist on the Voulez-Vous project is Samorn Sanixay. Samorn creates beautiful hand-woven textiles that range from scarves, throws, and stunning bags. The silk scarves are made from ‘vegetarian silk’ – that doesn’t involve killing silk worms – and are dyed with everyday food products like olives, turmeric and mulberries.

But Samorn isn’t just an artist – she’s using her creativity and skills to do good things for women in need. She has partnered with Global Sisters, an ‘online village’ that has been developed to help disadvantaged women around the world earn an income, working as a mentor for newly settled refugee women. She also established the group Eastern Weft, a collection of traditional weavers from her home country Laos, who support their families by creating gorgeous fabrics for sale in Australia.

The hand-woven silk scarves and products are very labour intensive, but Samorn says that this is part of what makes the final product so valuable. “Some of our custom made fabrics take months to weave because the patterns are so complicated the weavers can only produce 20cm a day,” Samorn explains. “A scarf can be up to one week! Our customers care very much about the handmade process and they value the final products even more and knowing we have a transparent production line. The customer becomes the final part of our story.”

“I believe in a holistic approach to design… We control every step of the production process from breeding silk worms to collecting flowers, leaves seeds and plants for the dyes. Working in harmony with the environment each season,” Samorn says. “What is really interesting is that because we use what is available each season, the colours can never be repeated.  For example if we used marigold flowers this year, this time next year there will be slight shift in colour and this is the result of more or less rainfall each year.”

“This tradition has existed for centuries, and I want to keep this alive through my own interpretation and adapting this to my work where ever I am in the world. It is possible. Weaving and natural dyeing are extremely labour intensive but it’s a labour of real love.”

Click here to see the products available for sale through Eastern Weft.

Global Sisters has just been announced as the only Australia/Oceania finalist in the 2014 Project Inspire funding program (run by UN Women and MasterCard). Just ten finalists have been chosen from more than 500 entries received from 70 different countries.

Please vote for Global Sisters in the People’s Choice Award category. Voting closes on Friday 29 August 2014.

To stay in touch with Global Sisters, join the Facebook page or visit the website.

Do you know an artist (or are YOU an artist) who creates beautiful or thought-provoking work and whom you think should be featured on Mamamia’s Voulez-Vous Project? Send an email to [email protected]mamamia.com.au.    

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