Chime by Ian Markell

Born and raised in California, Ian Markell has drawn on archive images of the 1960s West Coast counterculture in combination with Kvadrat’s sustainable textiles to produce a series of large-scale wall-mounted collages which, through materials and subject matter, offer an open-ended meditation on sustainability: how it is understood, historicised and marketed, and how it has been perceived in the past.

Markell sees a congruence between his interest in photographic imagery, which he retrieves from archives and applies in a creative context, and Kvadrat’s approach in recycling wool in order to create something new that honours its past. The overlap between Kvadrat’s production method and his own practice influenced his choice to use archive images of the so-called ‘hippie’ subculture, a movement whose sociopolitical ideals helped seed an environmental consciousness that took root in the 1970s.

Referencing the patchwork quilts and crafts of the 1960s counterculture, the collages bring together materials from disparate sources, with images printed onto Kvadrat fabric, whose pronounced texture put Markell in mind of newsprint. Through an intuitive approach, he has worked on the images and textiles to build multi-textured wall-based artworks. Aluminium pipes sourced from a metal recycling centre were cut down to differing sizes to create wind chimes that hang from the bottom of each work. The manufacturer’s text on the aluminium was deliberately retained to keep a record of its industrial provenance, akin to the recycled nature of the textiles used.

In the United States, a country based on convenience and hyper-individuality, we particularly need to reconsider the sustainability conversation,” says Markell. “Sustainability is a part of life and a mindset. It is a way of experiencing the world, through rethinking, recycling, representing and reconsidering – it involves a circularity and way of thinking that needs to become a larger part of our ecosystem.

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