Favourite Things: Artist Christopher Duncan

Discovering weaving has been a rewarding process for this artist


Artist Christopher Duncan. Picture / Guy Coombes.

Weaving provides the backbone for Christopher Duncan’s work, using natural fibres and repurposed materials to create different textural combinations, compositions and structures.

“Sometimes they have an intention, and I’ll make them up into garments. Other times they drape the wall,” says the Auckland-based artist. “This year I’ve been turning my woven textile into kimono and wrap vest garments... with strengths and weaknesses placed throughout the weave for drape, warmth and aesthetics.”

Duncan grew up in Napier surrounded by a creative family — his artist mother encouraged him and and his sister to draw and paint from their favourite books and to sketch street scenes. “I think I always wanted to work with textiles. I have a memory of trying to make a magic carpet when I was quite young. Although the method of rug-making escaped me, I attempted to embroider patterns on some cloth from the fabric cupboard at home.”

After pursuing this interest at university in Wellington, Duncan worked part-time for designer Lela Jacobs before moving to Melbourne, where he worked in managing retail and buying for four years.

Now living in Auckland, Duncan co-owns TUR, an open studio, exhibition and retail space on Karangahape Rd, stocking garments and items by THYEN, Jason Lingard, Sophia Hattingh and ceramics by Wundaire.

Duncan’s own pieces, which he creates in-house on a loom, hang beside those by other designers. “My journey to weaving happened serendipitously. My progression from a fashion industry based on a numbers game to the starting point of clothing seemed natural. I had to redefine what use my skill-set could be, and our space, TUR, is a progression of this.”

As well as filling the store, Duncan’s work will feature alongside a handful of other weavers in new exhibition Strands: Weaving a New Fabric at Ponsonby’s Objectspace this month until September 26, which looks at how weaving is an integral part of our everyday lives — including in garments, decorative accessories, baskets and homewares.

MY FAVOURITE THINGS

Philip James Frost painting; Miniature kowhai plant. Pictures / Supplied.

1. Philip James Frost painting
Originally from Dunedin, where we like to visit, Philip James Frost’s work in its playful state reminds us of the nature of Dunedin: the cold winters and vibrant art scene.

2. Miniature kowhai plant 
This peculiar New Zealand native, which we adopted into our space when we began our work at TUR, receives a lot of attention due to its tiny leaves and odd branch structure.

Lela Jacobs x Shin Hyunmu screenprinted hide; My collection of weaving tools; Collection of elephant ornaments. Pictures / Supplied.

3. Lela Jacobs x Shin Hyunmu screenprinted hide
The mandala was a gift from Lela when I returned from overseas. This is screenprinted on a cow hide, however the original is said to be hand-drawn. I’ve always been mesmerised by the composition.

4. My collection of weaving tools
The reed hook, stick shuttle and Shozaburo thread cutters make weaving with fine thread possible. The thread cutters I bought in Melbourne; they were handmade in Japan. The reed hook helps thread the loom with the warp yarn, and the shuttle I use for adding detailed weft.

5. Collection of elephant ornaments
It started with the inheritance of a trio from my grandmother who passed away, and followed with more from my Nana when she passed. Now friends add to the collection when they find them on their travels.

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