A few weeks back I had the pleasure of photographing Mardell Rampton, a textile artist who works out of 100 Braid Street Studios & Gallery in New Westminster. What is really neat about how we met is that Mardell saw a collaboration I had done with Michelle of Blossom & Vine Floral Co on Instagram and loved my work so decided I was the photographer for her. How cool is that! I love when great people come my way by through a connection of other great people! Really makes you feel like you are cashing in some good karma points.
I have a soft spot for artists and the work they create, with a particular interest in their process, so when Mardell told me she wanted to do a Personal Branding session to show some of her work behind the scenes and express who she is as an artist I was instantly excited.
This is Mardell’s personal artist statement taken from her website:
“I make abstract textile paintings as a way of expressing ideas and enjoy working in series as a way to fully explore the theme. Current series delve into themes around balance, equilibrium connection, beaches and architecture.
Colour, texture, line and shape fascinate me. These factors, in combination with the tactile nature of fabric draw me to the studio daily to work on my art. I often hand dye, paint and mark cotton fabric to use in my work, in combination with commercially available cottons.
The artwork is constructed by cutting the individual pieces freehand and then sewing them together. Once this surface is created, it is layered with batting and backing. Finally, additional texture is added by dense stitching using a cotton thread mostly by machine, and occasionally by hand.” – Mardell Rampton
I had researched her work online before we met and was quite looking forward to our shoot together. I had already taken a liking to her work from the pictures I had saw, but let me tell you that when I saw it in person being made, well I was blown away. I got to learn how she mixes the colours, how she applies it to the fabrics and creates textures and works the colours together. While in her studio space I spotted this lovely shell, which was actually a receiving bowl made by artist Ginger Meek Allen. Mardell shared more about what this bowl meant to her, and in many ways she reminded me a lot of my mother when she told me more about her story. I also got to learn about Merchant and Mills scissors, which were quite special to Mardell; artists become quite connected to the tools of their trade, I know in my case my camera is like another child to me.
Personal Branding sessions are one of my favourite to do, as I take time before to get to know my client, and when we are together I work hard to understand who they are, what drives them to do what they do and highlight the essence of the work they create. My time with Mardell was nothing short of inspiring, I left feeling like I had been with an old friend that I had not seen in years. Oh and it needs to be said, she had the coolest apron I have even seen that her son got for her! After we left the studio we went down to New Westminster Quay to get a few outdoor photos. Mardell had never really liked having her picture taken, so this was a new thing for her, and I had to ensure we got outside near the water as this is a place she takes much of her inspiration from, as well as we had a special request from her son to get a photo of her in her collector car!
There are so many photos from her shoot that I love, but here are some of my favourite ones. I hope you take time to visit her website or better yet go see her work and treat yourself to a piece! I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to Mardell for choosing me as your photographer and sharing so much of yourself with me at this shoot. You knocked this out of the park with your warm smile and your passion for the work you do!
PS: What is even more exciting for me out of all this is that she will be making me a custom piece from an an old Kimono that was gifted to me 20 years ago when I lived in Japan. It belonged to my friends grandmother and is quite special, but sadly was damaged in a flood.
I never had the heart to give it away as it held so much sentimental and monetary value, so I brought it to show Mardell, who told me she should would be able to save it and create a piece of art with it. After 20 years of holding on to this, and the sadness of it getting damaged it is truly amazing to think it will have a new life, and recreated by such a lovely local artist. All I can say is damn I love my job and the people that come into my life through it!
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Michele Mateus is an award winning Vancouver Boudoir and Women’s Portrait Photographer. Serving Coquitlam, Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Langley, Abbotsford, Squamish, Burnaby, Surrey, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, New Westminster and the Great Vancouver area.