Matching hand dyed choker and bracelet
Totems of Hope
Japanese Stole
Hjörliefshöföi
Choker
Bracelet
Circle Power Love

Launching Spring/Summer 2018

illuminate is an emerging design studio and online concept shop based in London. Inspired by traditional hand printing and natural dyeing techniques used by the masters of yore. illuminate creates handmade objects inspired by folklore from across Europe, combined with a minimalist aesthetic of the 1960’s.

Influenced by the ritualistic dyeing techniques traditionally used in Japan to dye kimonos, illuminate believes that it is important to allow traditional methods to thrive. The natural fibres used in the collection are carefully hand dyed with fresh rose petals and dried hibiscus, which leaves a painterly tactile pattern. These fibres are transformed into minimalist fashion accessories to create the perfect addition to any wardrobe, to illuminate your style. 

A recent voyage to Iceland, a place steeped in folklore, inspired the debut print collection. It was the myth of the Huldufólk, the ‘hidden folk of Iceland’ and the barren landscape that encapsulates the island that really allowed space for the imagination to run wild.    

Amy Middleton
Founder and Maker

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+44 (0)7880 717 015

NEWS

I’m Glowing, I’m Flying
07.11.2018

I’m Glowing, I’m Flying

Today we are celebrating Diwali, meaning row of lamps in Hindu, most commonly known as the festival of light which celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. Perfect on a day where ominous clouds overshadow London town and the rain ricochets off the brightly coloured fallen leaves. During this illuminating festival temples, homes and shops are brightly lit both outside and within for five days, so we will follow in their footsteps and light candles to shroud the hidden corners of our abode with light.

In the run up to Diwali, celebrants prepare by decorating and cleaning their dwellings to freshen their living space to make space for clarity and to create a place to worship Lakshmi the Goddess of prosperity and wealth whilst adorning themselves in their finest clothes, feasting and giving offerings to their beloveds. Time moves quickly in the secular world and we often loose our grasp on meaning, on a shared experience. This is why we are so interested in revisiting these traditions to marvel at humanity’s capacity to carve a shared connectivity with the world, reinventing ourselves when you thought all was lost, battling through the darkness and finding delight in the glimmers of light that filter down from above and within.  

‘I am alone now, I am beyond recriminations
Curtains are shut, the furniture is gone
I’m transforming, I’m vibrating, I’m glowing
I’m flying, look at me
I’m flying, look at me now’

Nick Cave

Moon Viewing
24.09.2018

Moon Viewing

Before telescopes, the moon was seen as dominant over the sun because it was the biggest thing in the sky. Ancient people observed its cycles and periodic disappearance, and assumed it must figure into the pantheon of pagan gods and goddesses. The Moon is moving away from the Earth a few centimetres each year, so here, 85 million years in the past, it was much closer to Earth. The moon has stolen some of Earth’s rotational momentum to gradually boost itself farther and farther away, slowing the Earth’s spin as a result.

Evidence of moon worship has been uncovered at archaeological digs all over the world, from the ancient Celts to the Egyptians. The most common symbol was the lunar disc – a flat, shiny figure worn as a medallion or as part of a crown, meant to symbolise the moon and associated things. Our collection of broaches are inspired by these long lost artefacts, to illuminate you and honour those luminous rays.

Tsukimi or Otsukimi, meaning moon viewing refers to festivals honouring the autumn moon, to give thanks to the abundance of the years harvest and is celebrated unto this today. The custom is believed to have originated with Japanese aristocrats during the Heian period, where they would gather to read poetry under the luminous full moon. Today on the evening of the full moon, it is traditional to gather in a place where the moon can be seen clearly, decorate the scene with Japanese pampas grass, and to serve white rice dumplings and drink sake. In China they eat moon cake and enjoy the delights of lion dancing, a tradition thought to bring good luck and fortune. Tonight we will feast on moon cake, gaze to the skies and give thanks for a luminous summer with a lions breath and a salutation.

Moon Viewing

Arms floating skywards,

Breathe in, sigh and let it go,

Face now a glimmer.

Amy Middleton

An Offering and a Whisper
07.09.2018

An Offering and a Whisper

We took to Stanton Drew and its ancient stone circles to escape the city lights and imagine the rites of passage that took place there. Numerous trees and a gigantic wooden henge once encapsulated the stone circle, now all thats left to bare are scattered stones worn from the passages of time. The stones crevices covered in a rich mint green lichen, lie with palpable purpose.

Each stone, likened to a shrine, act as places to reflect, for a moment of solitude, to channel a radiant energy within. A magnetism draws energy back into the stones, mingling with the energy of the past and the warm summer rays. We whispered our own thoughts into those radiating stones and they whispered back, with a certain wisdom and a lightness.

Sun bleached flowers wrapped in delicate ribbons lay at the base of the stones, a suggestion of the offerings made by spiritual footsteps long before. We made our own offering, raising our arms skywards to salute to the sun, the moon and the stars for breathing life into the earth and our energetic bodies and made our way back feeling a lightness in our mind and of our soul.

An Offering and a Whisper

Magnetic spirit.

Celestial gratitude.

Sun, moon, earth and stars.

Amy Middleton

Totems of Hope
16.05.2018

Totems of Hope

Forever drawn to vast, hypnotic landscapes as a source of inspiration, they act as sites of contemplation, to transport you to different time zones, both light and dark in their nature. The mind breathes in a myriad of memories and empties skywards and floats away with every lap of the ebbing tide. A sense of freedom fills the body, with a somewhat childlike state we often yearn for.

The jagged icecaps which pierce the boundless skies are a reminder of the infinitesimalness of our existence and the expansiveness of the earth, as it spins on its axis amongst an infinite landscape of stars and galaxies. It’s here that feelings of disconnection and desolation arise in parallel with an interconnectivity with the beauty of nature and the human spirit. Memories of forgotten souls, etched on your mind, spring forth and desires to connect abound as you act out imaginary tales in your mind.

Totems scatter the landscape to represent this act of remembrance, like spirit beings, serving as a reminder of those that have entered other realms. Places of ritual such as these continue to act as a huge source of inspiration, it gives us a richer understanding of how we deal with loss and create a deeper connection with ourselves and these beatific shores.

Totems of Hope

Touching waters edge,

Mind opens, body surges,

And I think of you.

Amy Middleton

Dreamscapes
17.04.2018

Dreamscapes

Our original plan for Easter was to travel up to the Hebrides and explore its hypnotic landscape seeped in folklore, but we were busy showcasing our illuminating wears at the British Craft Trade Fair. For now we can only imagine what it would be like to throw stones into those clear waters, feel the wind in our hair and the sun rays beating down on us. One day we will make it to the Callanish Stones, to see what it feels like to be in the same spot that rituals took place during the bronze age. To explore the ritualistic sites in the surrounding area, to weave in and out of the stone circles and wonder why they chose the circle as its formation. But for now we will leave you with this Haiku, to dream of distant lands, to awaken the mind.

Dreamscapes

Dream of Distant Lands

Blue skies soar, stones pierce the air,

rising, higher still.

Amy Middleton

The Enkindled Spring
20.03.2018

The Enkindled Spring

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.
I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.
And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that’s gone astray, and is lost.
D.H. Lawrence
Let’s Chase the Winter Away
01.03.2018

Let’s Chase the Winter Away

At this time of year thousands of Slovenians take to the streets to perform a ritual to chase away the winter, during a festival called Kurentovanje, usually dressed in traditional masks and elaborate costumes. The main figures, called the Kurent, dress in magical sheepskin garments with bells around their waists, whilst holding a wooden club in the left hand to shock winter into hibernation. By the end of the carnival the Kurent will have collected many handkerchiefs (given by girls & women) which she/he carries tied around the club.

Keen to absorb the mysticism of such a weird and wonderful ritual, but without the means to get there I decided to perform my own ritual to chase away the final notes of winter. As the beast shrouded London with all its might, it felt like the perfect opportunity to bombard the beast with a colour explosion to encourage it into submission and to tease those early buds to open and show us all their splendour. I chose to create a beak to represent freedom and perspective to make space for all your new ideas for the coming spring.

The Infinite Nature of Energy
21.02.2018

The Infinite Nature of Energy

Always drawn to the simplicity of the circle I began to delve into its deeper meaning. The circle symbol meaning is universal it represents the infinite nature of energy and the symbol of the universe. For the Celts it represents an all encompassing protection, the Cristians eternity as it has no beginning or an end and for Native Americans the circle is the sun, the moon and her children, man and woman. It also represents within Buddhism the beginning, the end and reincarnation into other life forms.

I remember when I first clasped eyes on the work of artist Mariko Mori at the Baltic art gallery who often uses the circle to propose that our universe has no beginning or end, but goes through a continuous cycle of birth and destruction, and that there may even be universes that exist parallel to our own. She used the symbol of the circle in the one of her outdoor displays during the Brazil Olympics in 2016 to represent the oneness of humanity. “The concept of the ring is that a ring symbolises oneness and completeness and eternity, and I wanted to add the sixth ring to the Olympics’ iconic rings because five symbolises all nations, and also celebrating peace,” said Mori. “The sixth ring is to symbolise our connectivity or unity of human and nature.”

The Coming of Spring
31.01.2018

The Coming of Spring

The Beginning of February marks the coming of Spring, the warming of the earth and the prospect of new beginnings. The first of February is celebrated in the Celtic festival of Imbolc, where hearth fires are lit, special foods are prepared and fortunes are told. Fire and purification were an important part of the festival, candles and fires are lit to represent the return of warmth and the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months. That is what I will do tonight; feast, light a candle and dream of the coming of Spring and all that she will bring with it.

Mysterious Landscapes
12.01.2018

Mysterious Landscapes

As the nights draw in once familiar landscapes take on new shapes as shadows encapsulate them. No one depicts this better than the enigmatic Tove Jansson in her mysterious landscape paintings. I was fortunate enough to see them in the flesh at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, they reminded me of the impressionistic style adopted by the fauvists, particularly André Derain, yet Jansson used more subdued, somewhat oppressive colours. After visiting the exhibition I was in complete awe of the extent of her work, her playfulness and her ability to tap into the human psyche. I spent a few treasured nights devouring Moominland Midwinter, reminding me to cherish all that winter brings with it.

Shapechangers in Winter
21.12.2017

Shapechangers in Winter

This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath, the door
of a vanished house left ajar.
Taking hands like children
lost in a six-dimensional
forest, we step across.
The walls of the house fold themselves down,
and the house turns
itself inside out, as a tulip does
in its last full-blown moment, and our candle
flares up and goes out, and the only common
sense that remains to us is touch,
as it will be, later, some other
century, when we will seem to each other
even less what we were.

Margaret Atwood

The Sphinx Adores the Sun
25.11.2017

The Sphinx Adores the Sun

The beautifully restored sphinxes in Crystal Palace Park felt like the ideal location to do the first shoot of the illuminated wears.  For the Sphinx adores the sun – Ra, the supreme God according to ancient tradition.  It waits for it to return each day.  It is the Sphinx’s adoration for the sun that causes it to rise out of itself, out of the earth from which it is made, to reach continually for the higher level of its being, called by the light.  This adoration causes the life within it to become holy: forever striving, Life meeting Light.

The Present is Part of Eternity
21.11.2017

The Present is Part of Eternity

On a recent trip to Stockholm I discovered the enigma that is Hertha Hillfon, where one of her sculptures was on display in the newly opened Gretas cafe oozing with it’s 1920’s glamour. Hillfon was one of the most prestigious ceramic sculptors in Sweden during the time of the 20th century. She was innovative and moved easily between abstract experiments and utilities, symbolic sculptures and portraits. With a rebellious spirit, and a hardworking ethos, she was curious and constantly moving forward. Hillfon was famous for saying “The present is part of eternity”, which certainly resonates strongly in times where we are all thinking either in the past or future. Living in the present is a transformative experience and one that we should strive towards.

Going Under
18.10.2017

Going Under

Sun is rising on the water
Light is dancing again
Let’s go under where the sun beams
Let’s go under my friend

Are we sleeping
Are we dreaming
Are we dancing again
Is it heaven
Crack it open
And we’ll slide down
Its stream

We can hold on (I’m sure)
To the sea’s foaming mane
It will serve us
We’ll surface
And we’ll plunge back again

Patti Smith

Ritual of the Dyeing Process
07.09.2017

Ritual of the Dyeing Process

Hand dyeing fabric is a relatively new phenomena to my creative process but once I started I couldn’t stop. There is something magical about foraging for flowers and plants which takes me back to my childhood where I would spend days in the forest making dens and building damns in the river. Come July through to November there is an abundant supply of fresh rose petals near the estate where I live, which emits the most intense colour. Not only is it a chance to get outside and explore but it opens up the door to conversations with my neighbours too. After watching the Handmade in Japan series I began to fully appreciate the meticulous and methodical work that goes into making a Kimono and the rituals that are involved in each and every step. I began to carry out my own ritual before the dyeing process as a form of blessing, to clear my thoughts and to bring positivity to the task ahead.