Suburban Garden

Suburban Garden

Suburban Garden, a contemporary chintz, is informed by the direct history of the pattern. Imported from India in the 18th century, Chintz patterns were desired by the wealthy and aristocratic. The original fabric was block printed on hand woven cottons, in arresting colors of indigenous natural dyes. They depicted the local flora and fauna of the region, therefore, exotic and expensive to import. As trade grew and the market demanded more of these patterns, European rulers began to elevate the import tax so as lower the competition from foreign manufactures. This inspired the French designers to copy the patterns, print them on locally produced goods and save large sums on import duty. In the process of copying, they drew from their local flora and fauna, hence removing the exotic factor from the picture. These “local” fabrics flooded the market allowing a more modest consumer. The Aristocrats wanted the allure of India not the flowers of France; subsequently Chintz fell out of favor with the wealthy trendsetters. This was the end for Chintz as a luxury fabric and began its speedy decline into Middle class homes. (Of course, this was to change when Laura Ashley and Ralph Lauren decided to resurrect the bouquet for its Charming English Country -side appeal). With such history, I felt it was my duty to search out the local Flora and Fauna of the Suburban environment for my contemporary version. This led me to the Library where I poured over 19th century botanical guides to medicinal narcotics. Each flower represents a commonly found narcotic in the Suburban community.