“The interesting thing about this collaboration is that you see a person with a totally different cultural background, and to a certain degree, you share some common preferences, but the methods are somewhat different. Coupled that with the fact that the discussion was done in a virtual framework, and throughout the process, I felt a bit confused but seemed to also some direction.”—Designer Yiyu Chen
“I still have doubts on if I could really collaborate with foreign designers, but it was more like god planned this for the time, for me, to collaborate with people outside the Philippines.” ── Anna India Legaspi, lead artisan at Riverland Farmers, Pina Weavers and Embroiderers Communities
Designer and Craft Community
Yiyu Chen focuses on the innovation and experimentations of mixed materials and traditional techniques. The garment as a medium, she expresses her concept through the design, experiments with different structures and materials, to challenge the audience’s perspective. The design concept is inspired by the relationship between humans and nature, which is expressed with the aesthetic of garments in the design process, to explore the beauty of nature or the definition of nature from the human perspective. In recent years, she has been focusing on the subject of the Anthropocene and feminism and brought them into the creation. Her design itself emphasizes the structure and proportional configuration, whilst the materials of creation try to challenge the established rules and experiment with new and different materials for the requirement of the design concept.
The Riverland Farmers, Piña Weavers and Embroiders Communities is a network of people that contribute to the value chain of the piña textile production in the province of Aklan, Philippines. Within each family, the father plants the piña, the mother is the fiber extractor and the older children are the fiber knotters, ensuring the sustainability of livelihood at the grassroots and a continuous supply of raw materials in its value chain to support weavers, dyers, embroiderers and so on. The piña is a fine gossamer fabric that uses the fibers from the leaves of the pineapple plant, delicate and transparent yet strong and versatile and one of the iconic textiles of the Philippines.
In the Riverland Farmers, Pina Weavers and Embroiderers Community, Aklan, Philippines, every family member is responsible for important steps in the production process of piña (pineapple fiber). The work is usually divided like this: father harvests pineapples, mother extracts fibers, and older children are weavers, connecting fibers by way of tying knots. The satin-like thin fabric made of piña looks delicate; it is transparent but resilient, and has a wide range of applications, making it one of the important elements that support the life of local residents.
Anna India Legaspi is the head of the community and a crafter, and she is the main contact for this collaboration with Yiyu Chen. Sharing same interests in the natural environment and marine ecology, and having no trouble communicating, the two quickly found their rhythm working together. Yiyu sent her creative concepts, and production and practical ideas from afar; acting as Yiyu’s hands, Anna realized the shared memory and emotional links between Taiwan and the Philippines in the pictures: islands and oceans.
FIBER CO-CREATED PRODUCTS
〈Floating with the Waves〉
Floating with the Waves is a balance installation that features a framework supported by bamboo strips, form created with piña fabric, and patterns hand-drawn by Anna. With a concept of praising the beauty of nature and ecological diversity of the Philippines, Yiyu Chen selected five iconic indigenous marine animals: eagle ray, green sea turtle, Moorish idol, triggerfish, and whale shark. In addition to displaying their unique patterns, the installation also integrates the landscape of an island surrounded by the sea. Hung from above, Floating with the Waves lightly rotates with wind, injecting the ambience of tropical sea into the space.
〈In the Ocean Weaved by Light and Shadow〉
In the Ocean Weaved by Light and Shadow utilizes layered piña fabric to simulate the layers of ocean, trying to display the currents and marine lives under the surface of the sea. The inner and outer layers of the garment are connected by embroideries—the outer is a simulation of the waves of sea and the inner expresses through patterns and brushstrokes the forms of whale shark and seawater. The neutral silhouette implies the inclusiveness of the ocean, and the double-layer design accentuates a sense of fluidity when the garment is worn.
Hi! I am Designer Yiyu Chen!
Pina Weavers and Embroiderers Communities
Hi! I am Anna India Legaspi, lead artisan at Riverland Farmers, Pina Weavers and Embroiderers Communities.