Australia’s wool heritage is having its moment to shine in the most environmentally friendly way. Artist Toby Jones has transformed unwanted vintage woollen blankets in the RE-UP project, showcasing them in his exhibition ‘Gravity’ at Paramount House in Sydney.
Jones has previously explored the full creative spectrum, touching on lifestyle, music and fashion, and has worked as a textile artist and graphic designer, as well as founding his own jewellery label. For the RE-UP project, Jones was drawn to the beautiful quality of blankets created in traditional Australian woollen mills. Noticing them in thrift stores and sold as dog blankets, Jones decided to take action – to revive their value and make them appealing to the contemporary design world.
Using macro scale Japanese shibori tie-dyeing techniques, Jones gave the originally faded, block-coloured material abstract patterns in stronger tones. A complete transformation, the RE-UP project inspires design re-use and sustainability in an extraordinary way. The blankets have retained their thick woollen texture but now exist in modern iterations such as ‘Peach Crumble’ – a stained pink blanket with veins of red dye – and ‘Stone Wood’ which has a spider-web style pattern in grey and cream shades. As a finishing touch, Jones has reattached their original woven silk ‘Made in Australia’ labels, to remind us of the culture they are derived from.
If that's not enough, Jones is also launching his debut furniture collection to run alongside RE-UP. The set of lightweight chairs and a table inspired the exhibition title 'Gravity', and again promotes conscious repurposing of materials. The rustic chairs are carved from a single piece of wood and then set on minimalist steel frames; while the geometric steel table simply sits on its edge with two small triangular legs.
A celebration of a true Australian legacy, both projects have been formed over the last six months and will be on show until 12 August at the Sydney space.