ARTISAN TEXTILE DESIGNER

Starting Points for 'Topiary Silhouette Pattern'

The starting points for this design was the ‘Art of Topiary’ and ‘The Silhouette’. There are no limits when it comes to the art of topiary, it can be geometric or fanciful. The art of shaping shrubs and hedges into ornamental figures is known as topiary and dates back to classical antiquity. As an art form, it is a type of living sculpture.   

It is one of those things we are conscious of when visiting historic houses but may not know that much about, so I began researching.  The style became popular in England in the 17th century, and in the late eighteenth century, the art of topiary was relegated to the cottage garden.  In the late 19th century, it returned to fashion with the Arts & Crafts movements and there are many places now to see this ancient art-form.

On a visit to the National Art Gallery in London, I happened to come across a gallery with silhouette portraits.  Cutting portraits, generally in profile, from black card became popular in the mid-18thcentury, the silhouette image being represented as a solid shape on a single colour. Looking at the miniature portraits in the gallery you could see the very intricate detail. 

Both the topiary and silhouette research influenced the ‘Topiary Silhouette’ pattern and I decided to keep the shape simple to allow the silhouette to stand out. I reversed the dark on light usually used in silhouette portraits, to a light shape on a darker background.

Settling on a block repeat, finished the layout and using a palette of mid-century colours completed the pattern, having mixed the two influences into one final 'topiary silhouette' design.