'Everything in Swaziland sounds sweet,' Nelson Sepulveda explains of his recent experience of the small landlocked country in southern Africa. Commissioned by the Dutch lighting company Ay illuminate, Sepulveda and the photographer Mark Eden Schooley responded to the company’s desire to work with local handcraft and natural waste materials by teaming up with Gone Rural Swaziland, a non-profit organisation led by Philippa Thorne. The impressive initiative currently works with 760 rural Swazi women to 'empower women, their families and communities through education, health and social uplift.'
In Swaziland, Sepulveda and Schooley found that locally grown and produced sisal netting made by women working with the Gone Rural initiative provided the perfect complement to the collapsible lamp base they were developing in China using locally grown bamboo. After working on the design brief each day, Sepulveda set himself the enjoyable goal of hunting down eye-catching printed textiles from the local markets
'Nature in Swaziland is rich, the people are all a little happy,' he explains of the culture surrounding the boisterous prints that caught his eye. Much of the cloth is imported from the neighbouring countries of South Africa and Mozambique. While aimed at the tourist market, few tourists visit the country these days, allowing the cloth to remain relatively affordable for the local market.
Sepulveda’s repeat visits to the region revealed that the colours and patterns of textiles available in the local markets is as seasonally variable as our own fashion trends. The short pieces of printed cloth (averaging 1.5 to 2 metres in length) pictured here are intended for garments rather than interiors...
You can read this article in full in Selvedge issue 53.