LDF23: Mother Goddess of the Three Realms Celebrates British + Vietnamese Heritage

10.11.23 | By
LDF23: Mother Goddess of the Three Realms Celebrates British + Vietnamese Heritage

Mother Goddess of the Three Realms: Cross Encounters, Joining Threads was the title of “a celebration of UK and Vietnam’s cross-cultural and shared design heritage” curated by Vickie Haywood of Company,Place, and led by WAX Atelier (London) in collaboration with Blue H’mong craftswomen of Po Co village (Mai Chau Province) and KILOMET109 (Hanoi) as part of both London Design Festival and Vietnam Design Week.

Ropes and cords in various colors hang from an unseen cord in front of greenery

The same group collaborated on Mother Goddess Rope (top and above), which is made from collectively sourced hemp, linen, nettle, silk, and wild yam root and bound together in song and dance.

A series of different types of cord and looped, knotted and displayed on a white board.

Photo: Katie Treggiden

Using rope as both medium and metaphor, the exhibition explores cross-cultural ideas from a wide range of practitioners whom the curators describe as “a collection of individuals and organizations who are contributing to the preservation and proliferation of ancient material knowledge for one of humankind’s greatest technological inventions.” Above a selection of bast fibers show the ropes and cords that can be made from materials such as nettle, bramble, and raspberry.

Nine plastic chairs are arranged in a arc in front a stage, which is surrounded by drawn red curtains and onto the backdrop of which is projected an image.

A film screening area featured theater curtains and a backdrop made from naturally fire-retardant hemp, wool, and bast by British textile brand Camira and a pink theater rope made from cotton and silk by Brian Turner Trimmings Ltd, commissioned especially for the occasion. Two films were shown – Domestic Spinner by Yibing Chen, which explored the connections between spinning and women’s identities, and Mother Goddess of the Three Realms by Rocio Chacon and Yesenia Thibault Picazo (co-founder of WAX Atelier), which gave the exhibition its title and follows three groups of women as they create a 20-meter-long braided rope as an offering to the Mother Goddess to represent heaven, water, and forest.

A blue boot on a foam sole in wrapped in cord

The Nine Lives Shoe by Jennifer Duong and Natasha Hicks is made from recycled rubber, cotton, and nylon 4-stranded braided Caliga. It was designed for the “urban explorer” during Walking the City – a free summer school program led by STORE Projects to address the social imbalance in the creative industries.

A series of wooden poles are wrapped in cord

Aimee Betts is an embroidery and textile artist specializing in traditional forms of stitching, knotting, and fabric manipulation, which she translates into contemporary designs. For this exhibition, she was showing ash batons, crapped and overhand stitched with wax cotton cord, leather cord, jute cord, and ceramic coated cord as well as samples made from the same types of cord and soutache cord, brass, tassel mould, dowel, rope, and vintage linen, combining traditional stitches with ones she has conceived herself.

A wooden bench has a woven cord seat and cord back

Designed and made by Nice Projects, the simply titled Bench is made from hemp rope and wood to provide visitors to the exhibition with a place to rest, “converge and commune.”

Rope is different colours is attached across a white-painted space

Rope in Action is a sculptural structure running through the space that uses ubiquitous hardware items to showcase the rope strung and knotted through space.

A series of samples are laid out on a white background some of them are in glass dishes

Studio Raw Origins showcased Hemp, Earth + Politics – a demonstration of UK hemp decomposition processes into yarn, fiber, nutritional protein, and hemp seed oil – a small selection of their ongoing research into the thousands of uses for this carbon sequestering, zero waste, soil regenerating crop.

A bamboo frame sits in front of a window next to a teapot

A Study in Bamboo by artist and molecular scientist Cynthia Fan is made from bamboo harvested over the summer from a garden in the area of London where the exhibition took place and is one of a series of compositions that enable an opportunity to gather field notes about the plant’s strength.

A white woman in her 30s wears blue pants, a white top and a yellow jacket. She is smiling and stands in front of a wooden frame with blue yarn stretched across it.

Sanne Visser, better known for her ropes made from human hair, was running rope-making workshops throughout the exhibition to demonstrate the process and offer visitors the chance to try it for themselves. She also had a dog lead made from human hair on display – part of her ongoing project, The New Age of Trichology, that connects hairdressers with spinners to promote this regenerative, non-extractive material for rope-making.

Heavy yellow cord is draped across a column

WAX Atelier collaborated with Brian Turner Trimmings Ltd to repurpose rope used for the recent British royal wedding into a temple decoration simply named Temple Tassel.

A wooden frame with a corrugated roof holds a bee-hived shaped structure.

The Bee Skep Hut by Lyson Marchessault, Jesse Beagle, and Hayatsu Architects comprises a coppiced chestnut frame and a hazel and corrugated hemp fiber roof, wattle and daubed with London clay, hemp, and sand.

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author and, podcaster championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. She is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular, a program and membership community for designer-makers who want to join the circular economy. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.