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Designer Spotlight: See How Lynette Diergaardt Is Presenting Namibian Fashion Through Arts

Lynette Diergaardt
Lynette Diergaardt (Photo Credit: Stdat Neuss )
Richard Grant said, “The value of identity, of course, is that so often with it comes purpose”. If there is one person who takes pride in identity, it is Lynette Diergaardt—and she found her purpose within it. Lynette found a way to embed her identity into her passion, to make an impact from Africa to the world.

She found a way of presenting Namibia to the world through amazing unique art pieces. Wondering why she is so different from other designers? Keep reading to find out more about her and her amazing designs.

Born in Namibia, Lynette received her Bachelors of Art from the University of Namibia and her Masters in Textiles as a Fulbright Scholar at Kent State University in the USA. She is committed to helping build a viable fashion industry in Namibia. Consequently, she taught principles of design and textiles at the University of Namibia.

Lynette developed her skill and love of sewing from her mother who was a seamstress. One of the themes that she makes evident in most of her works is the importance of recycling. This aligns with the current push to make fashion more sustainable.

The Place of Recycling in African Fashion

Lynette makes use of scrap fabric both for the garments she designs as well as her handbags. She incorporates a variety of techniques including dyeing, patchwork, appliqué, embroidery, knitting, and crocheting. The layering of different techniques contributes to both texture and boldness, which she identifies as hallmarks of her work. Also, Lynette describes the use of recycled materials as a characteristic of design in Namibia. She said,

“Using the second-hand clothing markets has become a great way to develop new Namibian material culture by combining traditional material culture with contemporary fashions.”

Lynette also focused on repurposing old and recycled materials which formerly cluttered her home. The master fiber artist, Fulbright scholar, and University of Namibia lecturer assert that these weavings are her “contribution to cleaning up our Namibian environment by not throwing materials away which contribute to landfills. Rather, to turn what would normally be waste into something beautiful that can speak for the environment”.

Plans for Future Namibia

In the future, Lynette Diergaardt plans to start a business that provides Namibian goods for the domestic market. She recognizes that current businesses of selling local arts and crafts, primarily serve the tourist market instead. Her plan is to work with fellow Namibian designers and artists on product development to be sold through an online portal.

Presenting Namibian Identity Through Textile

Lynette Diergaardt’s exhibition is a collection of prints in search of a Namibian identity through the elements of art such as patterns, repetitions, colors, and visual textures. She manipulates the surface of the cloth to visually communicate a concept that tells a much larger story than the cloth.

According to her, textile fiber art connects in a way to the human spirit and mind by producing a symbolic connection through memory, heritage, artistic processes and that this is what influences her work the most. She said,

“For as long as I have been a student and educator there has been a search for a Namibian identity post-apartheid and perhaps inclusive or even excluding of international influences through media and imported products.”

Thus, the exhibition explores unique patterns that are derived from biological organisms collected around the artists’ environment, which she drew and turned into patterns. According to her,

“It was important to show a larger Namibian Identity. To develop a holistic project it was important to show different drawing styles so that the body of work could truly reflect Namibia.

Remembrance Through Cloth

While some remember through smell or colors, Lynette remembers through clothes. Lynette says ‘Remembrance Through Cloth’ provides a body of work that many other people can relate to. She felt textiles play a significant part in our daily lives. Lynette says while cloth holds significant meaning and is often associated with funerals and memory, “‘Remembrance Through Cloth’ allows me to make my own commemorative textile”.

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt (Photo Credit: The Namibian)

Generally, in ‘Remembrance Through Cloth’, textile artist Lynette is thinking about her brother. Sometimes it is fond memories and at other times more somber. A smiling, sometimes ghostly presence at the heart of an exhibition that mourns his death, remembers his life and honors his existence through a collection of artworks that endeavor to arrest memory and halt that which is ephemeral.

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt (Photo Credit: The Namibian)

Also, Lynette incorporates images of casket handles and bittersweet weavings that speak of happier times alongside crowded depictions of recollected joy, heartache, and despair. ‘Remembrance’ is an exhibition that deftly pulls one through its central emotions which are just as complex as its form.

‘Mind To Hand’

Similarly ‘Mind to Hand’ is a collection of three different series of miniature textiles by Lynette. The ‘Experimental Weaving Collection’, the ‘Recycled Weaving Collection’, and the ‘Adinkra Weaving Collection’ are all results of the artist’s exploration of different weaving techniques. In the ‘Experimental’ collection, Lynette has put to test the idea that there is a direct link between the mind and the hand.

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt (Photo Credit: The Namibian)

This hand-woven blue design is very attractive and it has been nicely woven across different colors of paper and lightwood with tiny brooches. You can only assume that it contains at least two colors from the flag of every African country. This is quite a beautiful representation of art by Lynette

‘Dear Lynette’

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt (Photo Credit: The Namibian )

Equally amazing, is the display of mill weave in ‘Dear Lynette’, a large black and white piece in which words and faces are within a heart. The arteries are exposed and showcasing a similar sense of loss as if to say, forever in our hearts.

‘From Me to You’

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt (Photo Credit: The Namibian)

Likewise, a warm yellow and white patterned cloth is a dedication from the artist to her brother, Gregory Trevor Benade (1975 − 2013). She feels happy when she thinks of her brother and uses this bright color to express her thoughts.

Lynette Diegaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt, Serigraph on paper (Photo Credit:1stDIBS )

In addition to her smartness, it is clear that Lynette is all about bringing thoughts to life. That is exactly what she does with this piece from the Namibian Identity Series which is represented through serigraph on paper. The brown-like structures represent the leaves and yellow stands for the sun.

Silkscreen On Canvas

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt, Serigraph on paper (Photo Credit:1stDIBS )                                                                                                         

Screen printing is a printing technique where a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. Lynette uses this method to personalize the design with beautiful shapes and somber colors. Probably, she felt mixed feelings of loss and happy memories at the time of its conception.

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaadt (Photo Credit: StArt Art Gallery )

A beautiful mixture of bright colors, nicely interwoven by hand. All the colors have meanings. Red represents hardiness and valor, white representing peace and unity. These are attributes possessed by Africans. Thus, this is one of the pieces that shows Lynette is proud of her identity.

About The StArt Art Gallery

StArt Art Gallery is an independent gallery with an online platform and a physical presence in Namibia and abroad through pop-up exhibitions, markets, and art fairs. They opened their doors to the public in Windhoek in late September 2017 and have worked closely with artists to facilitate the development of their artistic and professional practice ever since. Lynette hosted one of her exhibitions there.

Wisdom and Knowledge

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt (Photo Credit: StArt Art Gallery )

The use of colors red and white in this piece is symbolic. This nicely woven thread is made of colors found on the Namibian flag. Red represents the Namibian people, their heroism, and their determination to build a future of equal opportunity for all. White stands for peace and unity. For Namibia and Africa to continue to be strong and live in peace Wisdom and Knowledge is needed.

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt (Photo Credit: StArt Art Gallery )

Blue is known to stand for royalty and strength. This thread contains a blue and slight touch of gold that is wealth. Africans have been known to be strong and proud of their heritage, who they are, where they come from, and most especially the passing of traditional values to the next generation.

Endurance and Leadership

Lynette Diergaardt
Design by Lynette Diergaardt (Photo Credit: StArt Art Gallery )

Lynette pays attention to details. Every fiber, color, image was intentional and stands for something. Gold and blue, tell a tale on their own. It hasn’t been a rosy journey for Namibia and most of Africa. However, they always succeed in the end.

Timeline of Lynette’s Exhibitions

  • Kent State Miniature Fiber Arts Exhibition Kent 2015
  • South West African Fashion Exhibition 2016
  • Remembrance Through Cloth’ 2016
  • Windhoek, Namibia ‘Being Here’ in 2017
  • Namibia, Textiles & Textures, National Art Gallery of Namibia 2017
  • Mind to Hand, StArt Art Gallery, Namibia 2018
  • (Solo Exhibitions) Namibian Identity Through Textiles, National Art Gallery of Namibia 2019
  • (Namibia Selected Group Exhibitions) Vom Ursprung zuruck /Terug na die Oorsprong with Alwina Heinz, Alte Post, Neuss Germany 2019
  • USA MFA Thesis Exhibition, Kent State University Ohio
  • Namibia Bank Windhoek Triennial, National Art Gallery of Namibia

Conclusion

Lynette attended the International Artists Workshop in Dusseldorf, Germany. She also assisted in printmaking workshop with Klaus Richter, Dusseldorf, Germany 2018. She continues to be at the forefront of Namibia’s fashion and design. However, the greatest lesson from her works is the importance of staying true to your identity.

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