Passion takes flight

Whether you’re a photographer, a street-art lover, or just an Instagram addict, you’ve likely seen butterfly wings flourish around the world as a big street-art trend.

Now you can find one in a popular shopping place, LCX at Harbor City, as part of the exhibition Original Self.

However, it’s not just a painting on the wall.

Created by Becky Gilmour, owner of Make & Do HK, the large art installation combines cross-stitching and lighting, showing the bold and innovative style of street art.

The artist lost herself in the creative process, echoing the “original self” theme.

“Usually street art is painting, so we want to bring more textiles, handcraft feelings to the street,” said Gilmour, who graduated with a textiles degree in London.

The exhibition, which runs until October 13, adopts denim to create an area full of street culture and trendy grids, showing different art forms, including graffiti walls and various installations.

Denim is an old friend, as Gilmour’s first job in Hong Kong was as a designer with a denim supplier eight years ago. And that’s when the story of Make & Do HK began.

The fashion industry requires insiders to catch up with the latest trend, so in addition to travel between offices in Hong Kong and New York City, and a factory in Bangladesh, she also had to fly to Amsterdam, Paris, and London to do shopping.

“That’s super stressful,” Gilmour said. “Shopping sounds like a fun thing to get paid to do, but people don’t realize that the pressure is if you come back with nothing.”

Although she enjoyed her job, she would gather her fashion designer friends at her flat in Sai Ying Pun on weekends to drink wine, do handicrafts like making soap, greeting cards and embroidery, and talk about the pressures of living in Hong Kong.

“Hong Kong is the craziest place I have been to. People work very hard here,” she said, adding that doing mindful crafting is like meditation to relax – something Hong Kong really needs.

The Facebook group she used to post information about handicraft workshops among her 20 close friends kept growing until it reached 2,000 people, and she had to organize workshops outside her place.

The sudden popularity of the workshops gave her the courage to quit her high-paying job and start her own business in 2017, teaching people weaving and embroidery.

There was an adjustment period after becoming her own boss, as she used to work in a 36-person team but now had to go it alone.

Accustomed to the fashion industry’s rapid transformation of ideas into products, she became a creative controller who could make whatever she wanted instead of market-driven products.

But she also had to keep generating new ideas for her workshops.

“What I love the most is designing new workshops because it’s exciting. It can be a little stressful at times, but it can go smoothly because you already know what materials and steps you need,” she said.

“It is just a lot of things to manage and I’m still learning to have a company.”

Make & Do HK now has more than 2,400 members and runs workshops at Three Keys Craft Space in Chai Wan, as well as working with schools, and holding events.

She and her little sister Lucy teach people, ranging from children to the elderly, to make accessories, bags and home decor with textile and embroidery, at usually more than 15 different workshops a month.

“It’s nice to see people concentrating on doing craft and not looking at the phone and worrying about work,” she said.

Laughing, she added: “Whenever I feel stressed, I tell myself to imagine what it would be like to go back to my old job.”

Apart from the five Denim It Up Your Way workshops held by LCX at the same time as the exhibition, Make & Do HK will also run a denim embroidery workshop on October 13.

“Denim is a big trend in street culture, and the exhibition wanted to create a feeling of being on the street in a shopping mall, which I think turned out very successfully,” Gilmour said. “Our workshop will embroider cute animals and wildflowers on denim purses. It will be very pretty and great fun.”

(This article was published at The Standard on October 4, 2019: Weekend Glitz: Passion takes flight )

191004 Passion takes flight

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