My lasting impressions of macramé are the 1970s-era wall hangings in rather unfortunate shades of brown, yellow and orange that were lurking around the kitchens of family members during my childhood in the 1980s. Taking a refreshingly alternative approach, Sarah Parkes, the artist and jewellery designer behind Smalltown, transforms the aesthetics of the dowdy craft to make stunning and contemporary art pieces.

Using traditional macramé skills, combined with wrapping techniques, Parkes creates installations for boutiques, lampshades, hanging potholders and her own line of jewellery. The one element that I particularly admire is the manner in which her webs of rope are simultaneously delicate and robust. Knotted and woven into snowflakes, egg shapes and abstract lattices, her pieces are exquisitely tangled and ornate in construction. Put simply, Parkes’ work is a perfect example of a vintage trend refashioned for modern tastes and sensibilities.

April 21, 2010