Dr Susy Paisley’s fabric company, Newton Paisley, was not just new to Decorex this year but completely new to the world. She was overjoyed with the response at Decorex to her hand-drawn designs, which celebrate wild and threatened species, including the red squirrel, and contribute to conservation.
Formerly Director of Development and Lecturer at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, and an expert in the conservation of the Andean or Spectacled Bear, her decision to launch a fabric company is remarkable.
However, as she explained to Decorex last week there is a tradition of textile creation on both sides of her family going back generations – her surname is Paisley after all. The launch of Newton Paisley feels like the most natural thing in the world. Susy’s zoological research was based in Latin America and it was there that she became fascinated by the use of textiles to tell stories and the seed of an idea was sown. Five years ago Susy was awarded a grant from the Ideas Factory to explore the notion of telling conservation stories through textiles and the fruition of her hard work was exhibited for the first time here at Decorex.
There are three collections, comprising seven designs, celebrating wild species and places close to her heart. The results are delightful and one can only imagine the tales that could be told by an imaginative story-teller about the animals that live in the fabric. The designs celebrate endangered or extinct species such as the Carolina parakeet which became extinct in 1918. English Mercia is her tribute to Dr Seuss’s The Lorax, which Susy considers the greatest conservation tale of all time. This design feature red squirrels, nightingales and great crested newts. The third collection is called Madidi Clouds and features Susy’s original illustrations from the Bolivian cloud forest where she studied her beloved spectacled bears.
Pigment printed in the UK onto pure British linen, Susy describes first seeing the volumes of cloth coming off the printer as amazing and a huge relief – to see the harmony and complexity of the repeating pattern, allowing her eye to travel through her design. There is an important added dimension to her work: for every metre of Newton Paisley fabric purchased, 100m2 of critical wild habitat is preserved through her collaboration with World Land Trust.