Hormazd Narielwalla has been utterly enchanted by the unexplored aura of the long forgotten, discarded bespoke tailoring patterns ever since walking the doors of Dege & Skinner of the renowed Saviler Row Company in London. A contemporary story teller, he managed to incorporate these patterns into his art and create a series of exquisitely crafted collages which have been showcased throughout several international exhibitions and publications.
When was that ‘turning moment’ you decided that you wanted to be an artist?
When I realized that there was a potential to make things from tailoring patterns other than clothes. When I met the Managing Director of Dege & Skinner in Savile Row, and learnt that they shred all patterns of deceased customers – it left a profound effect on me! I see them as artifacts, shapes, and materials through which things could evolve. There was no point in making clothes as they were made for bodies that no longer exist. I organically transitioned from a designer into an artist as I was capturing an experience, a feeling, responding to them in a way I am left with something that becomes a work of art in it’s own right where the work is not about something but it in itself.
Describe us the creative process of making your collages.
I always start with the physical patterns, which tell me what to do. Always, the pattern is the central focus and the tailor’s actual imprint of lines, chalk marks, scribbles, measurements and notes become a vital part of the image. I work better with an actual hands-on approach and through that process develop my artworks. It is also important for me to have a story (one that already exists or something I’ve made up), sometimes a tailoring reference, or a lot of times a feeling. So for instance, I revisited death when I acquired a considerable amount of deceased customer patterns having rummaged through the tailors archive and decided to explore Memento Mori by making 3-dimensional skulls. I also have a golden rule for myself that no part of the pattern gets discarded – every bit of it is used in my work. So the leftovers from the skull imprint were mounted around a projection of my skull to explore their outlines in the negative.
Is there any particular work that you cherish the most so far?
My first book Dead Man’s Patterns – as that’s where it all began. The response from the art and fashion world was phenomenal for me. The book is archived in the Rare Modern Collection of the British Library along with 25 other collections around Europe and America. It got the attention of Sir Paul Smith, Richard James and Timothy Everest. It was also the reason why the firm commissioned me to write my second book – The Savile Row Cutter. So for me it will always be a special project that I always remember. Artistically I keep going back to the book – finding new inspirations from it. I will cherish it for life.
Chasseur means hunter. Metaphorically speaking, it seems that everybody hunts its personal ‘prey ’. What is yours?
I am hunting down archives of tailoring patterns, books and stories for me to keep on making new art.
The artist and the person are the same. I describe myself as sensitive, vulnerable with a hunger to experience life for what it has to offer.
You can / can’t live without…
I can live without selfishness and can’t live without my eyes.
What is the most important advice that was ever given to you?
This might sound cliché – “Do not defend that you are an artist! You are what you are, and you should make no qualms about it!” A gallerist who I respect immensely gave it to me, and it changed everything.
What do you consider to be the most challenging part of your ‘exploration’ so far?
Drawing a straight line or a perfect circle.
You have already published two books, The Savile Row Cutter and Dead Man’s Patterns. Is there a third one on the way?
At the moment I’m concentrating on finishing my PhD at London College of Fashion but I am considering launching my third book next year, which would revolve around my Anansi collages. The prototype is made and I am looking for a sponsor to produce it.