• Collection of nature study photographs belonging to Olive Ashworth
  • Sketches, fabric swatches, and colour palette for new Everingham & Watson collection based on Olive Ashworth imagery, 2014

Liz Watson and Olive Ashworth

In this feature, a selection of guest contributors respond to an image or material artefact (typically a garment or accessory), that represents Queensland fashion. Each item is specifically chosen by The Fashion Archives in collaboration with collections and with a particular contemporary practitioner in mind. As a result, each Remember of Revive is a bespoke response and can take many formats and styles.

Liz Watson is one half of Queensland based homewares label Everingham & Watson, whose aesthetic is infused with Australiana; from prawns and pineapples to wattle and kangaroos. Liz’s great-aunt was Olive Ashworth, a celebrated designer who did much to translate the flora and fauna of Queensland into graphic imagery, including advertising, as well as textile prints made into bikinis and beachwear. The Fashion Archives invited Liz to reflect on a large collection of Olive Ashworth designs owned by her family, and create a new work inspired by their shared interests.

Particularly drawn to Olive Ashworth’s large collection of nature study photographs, Liz has begun to develop new designs based on these images. Here we see the early stages of development for a range of cushions, tea towels, and other homewares items, including the process of selecting colour palettes and fabric choices. These designs will be presented later in 2014 under the Everingham & Watson label.

Here, Liz remembers her great-aunt’s life and work:

“Olive was a fond member of our small family. She made an amazing sago pudding each Christmas and our gifts were always made with love and of course in her distinctive fabrics. Shower caps, hats for the redheads, underwear bags and library bags.

My aunt Dr Judith McKay was responsible for the collection when it entered the Museum of Queensland Collection (and for sewing many of these said Christmas gifts) and has written extensively about Olive. So it’s a family affair and one that has influenced my design and inspiration over the years.

Both Susie and I have been lucky to have been surrounded by family members, past and present, who take great inspiration from their surrounds and are constantly collecting and creating – it’s nice to continue and combine their legacies into something fresh and contemporary. While inspiration is taken from older generations, we have worked hard to make our ranges of Australiana contemporary and fun!

Recently I came into possession of two huge suitcases of her early graphic design pieces, which are in my studio, and some of these pieces will inform part of our upcoming collection for Everingham & Watson. I have spent the summer rummaging through the boxes and have grown most fond of her photographs.

Although Olive is known for her commercial designs and textiles, there are hundreds and hundreds of photographs in the boxes I now have in my studio and there are also many in the collections of the Queensland Museum and The State Library of Queensland. The photographs include images of outback adventures, Australian natives, lush foliage, fishermen, plenty of fish and mostly images of the Great Barrier Reef.

Having grown up with her work, it’s always been a love/hate relationship. The colours and patterns haven’t always been to my liking over the years. It’s been a pleasure spending time with her work with new eyes and appreciating her incredible talent and way with colour.

Our new Surf and Turf range is currently in development and due for release in August 2014.”

A suitcase full of Olive Ashworth designs
A suitcase full of Olive Ashworth designs
Liz works on new designs for Everingham & Watson, inspired by Olive's nature studies
Liz works on new designs for Everingham & Watson, inspired by Olive's nature studies
Bolts of fabric designed by Olive Ashworth
Bolts of fabric designed by Olive Ashworth
A selection of Olive Ashworth's photographs
A selection of Olive Ashworth's photographs
Olive Ashworth bikinis
Olive Ashworth bikinis

Published in , on April 8, 2014.