A collection inspired by the breath-taking femininity of the weather called for collaboration with creators energized by the same. With a capsule collection of party dresses and stunning tops and skirts capturing the wind’s movement, we talked to Australian artist, Cameron Robbins about the beauty of interpreting nature.
Cameron Robbins is a translator of sorts. He creates structural devices—instruments, really—that coax nature’s energy into artistic expression. He puts a pen in the wind’s hand. Persuades porous cliff faces to play a tune. Listens and watches carefully to find nature’s dynamic energy, then recasts it in a medium we humans can understand.
“The work that Jigsaw used was pulled from a wind drawing project,” Robbins tells me. “It was a large installation set up in a museum in Tasmania. We had a tower with a wind turbine and a weather vane outside and it was attached to axles that came through the museum windows into the drawing machine inside.” Over a period of 18 months, Robbins’ wind machine worked with the weather to create a series of compelling artworks; various 24 hour drawings; a 5 metre long, 10 day drawing with pen and paper scrolling at an inch per hour to pick up the quietest of windy whispers.
“What you end up with is an incredible story of weather systems passing over. The art really captures the waxing and waning of wind speed and different conditions and you get a real narrative of the weather,” says Robbins.
Currently based in Melbourne, Australia, Cameron grew up in a beach house on the coast where exploring, geology and amateur archaeology proved formative for his future work. “My father was a jazz piano player and I learned to play that and various other instruments, so there was a lot of music in the house as well. It all comes together in my art work.”
A perfect example of this collision is Robbins’ experimentation with the natural blowholes at the Great Australian Bight. “The rocks are porous there, so you have these incredible breathing cliffs. I was working with organ pipes at the time and had this idea to let the blowholes play.” The result, an F minor chord, was the beginning of a series of hauntingly beautiful abstract duets with the sea.
Of course, the weather is nothing if not unpredictable. “I went down there to the cliffs after everything and thought ‘where’s my installation gone?!’” he laughs. “The waves had crashed up and wedged it among the rocks. You really get to see how fierce the sea can suddenly be. So exciting.”
Few have this unique and long standing communication with the elements. With their mood, their changing temper and their catastrophic impact on human lives. “It’s so distressing reading the news at the moment,” he says, referring to the hurricanes currently tormenting the Americas and the Caribbean. “I’m just totally dumbfounded by people who don’t want to listen to scientists about things like global warming. They don’t argue with heart surgeons. You don’t say ‘I don’t believe you. I’m going to do [the surgery] myself.’ But I’ve never tried to push an agenda with my art. It’s more of a response to the natural world. A presentation of facts. ’”
Nonetheless, one could easily argue that Robbins’ work is a novel and poignant way to communicate the message that we must work with and talk to nature more.
“Drawings and sketches are the most immediate form of art. It’s a very direct method of communicating because there’s so little interference between concept and realisation. It translates a lot of energy,” Cameron notes.
“It’s very hard to do that with another medium but I think Jigsaw has done incredibly well—it’s a real credit to the team because it’s not easy to keep that energy while taking drawing into another medium, like clothing.”
Cut in Duchess satin, hand beaded and embroidered on silk, wool and jacquard fabrics, the Jigsaw design team worked to create a capsule collection of stunning pieces that continue Cameron’s conversation. Think of the beaded dress, the wool coat and the embroidered top, as moving canvases. A way to take the chaotic femininity of the wind forward in modern, couture style.
By Josie Johnson