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Textiles (MA)

Sauda Imam

Sauda Imam is a multi-disciplinary designer known for her innovative approach to printmaking and handwoven textiles. With a deep passion for celebrating cultural heritage and a love for vibrant imagery, her work embodies a bold and rich storytelling style.

Imam's creative practice revolves around intricately drawn patterns that weave together layers of symbolism and narratives. Through her striking use of colours, she creates thought-provoking fabrics that captivate and engage viewers, inviting them to explore the depth and complexity of one's cultural heritage.

Based in London and Nigeria, Imam draws inspiration from the multicultural energy of London and the rich tapestry of traditions in her home country. Her dual presence allows her to bridge different cultural contexts and create designs that resonate on a global scale, reflecting her commitment to celebrating cultural diversity and fostering meaningful conversations through her art.

Awards, Exhibitions and Publications:

Elle UK Editorial Sponsorship, 2023

British Vogue Partner, 2022

'Fashion Ones To Watch' British Vogue Magazine, 2022

'Fashion Forward: Authentic African Style' Voice of America Interview, 2022

'Afropolitan Trousseau' Graduate Showcase: Group show at Central Saint Martins, 2022

First Class BA (Hons) Textile Design at Central Saint Martins, 2022

Inside LVMH Certificate, 2021

Front cover of the UAL 2021/22 Undergraduate Prospectus, 2020

Sauda Imam at the weave studio at Royal College of Art. Imam is sitting in front of a loom with her colourful sketchbook.

During her artistic exploration at the Royal College of Art, Sauda Imam delved into the world of indigo, investigating its cultural significance, colonial history and connections to migration. Indigo holds a special place in many cultures worldwide. Imam recognizes its importance as a medium for expression and storytelling.

As individuals migrate, they carry a piece of each place they have been to, resulting in a unique blend of cultures and identities. Imam's textiles serve as a visual representation of this cultural merge. She adeptly weaves threads and fabrics sourced from Europe with dyes from her hometown of Kano state, Nigeria. By combining these materials, she creates a visual dialogue that celebrates the interconnectedness of different cultures and underscores the notion that our identities are shaped by the places we have called home.

By tracing the historical and cultural threads of indigo and its use in Nigeria, Imam not only pays homage to her heritage but also sheds light on the broader narrative of cultural exchange and migration. She explores how other cultures have impacted Nigerian fashion, creating a tapestry of influences that have shaped the country's sartorial landscape.

Through her artistic practice, Sauda Imam invites us to reflect on our physical and cultural journeys and embrace the beauty that emerges from the merging of diverse influences. Her textiles serve as visual narratives, woven with threads of personal and collective experiences, reminding us of the richness that comes from embracing our multifaceted identities.

Saudade – “The Love That Remains”

An emotional state of melancholic longing for a beloved yet absent someone, someplace or something. A yearning for one's homeland, a desire for what once was.

Shiny green sample made using a combination of silk and Lurex.
Shiny green sample made using a combination of silk and Lurex.
Hand-woven sample with lurex leaf pattern
Hand-woven sample with lurex leaf pattern
Vibrant painting of brown leaves with a dark lilac background.
A colourful painting of two ladies eating lunch at home, in Lagos Nigeria.
Image of Imam’s Grandmother and a close up painting of her striped woven skirt.
Imam’s grandparents greeting guests during Nigeria’s Independence day.
Ikat dyed warp and Indigo swatches showing different shades of blue.
Colourful woven sample with Imam’s ‘Star Flower’ design.
‘Nana’ Sample featuring a green half-circle pattern.
Fanka sample on the Jacquard loom.

Adiré is a traditional textile dyeing technique that originates from Nigeria, particularly among the Yoruba people of southwestern Nigeria. The word "Adiré" translates to "tie and dye" in the Yoruba language, which aptly describes the process used to create these unique fabrics.

Sauda Imam chose to explore Rini, a variation of Adiré specific to the Northern region of Nigeria. This particular form of Adiré shares striking similarities with the folding and resist techniques practised in Japanese shibori.

An indigo dye pit in Kano, Nigeria.
Kofar Mata Dye Pit
Folded, tied and indigo-dyed cotton fabrics.
Folded, Tied & DyedImam worked with local masu rini (dyers) from her home town Kano, Nigeria. During this workshop, she was taught how to tie and dye Arewa (Northern Nigerian) Shibori.
3 Shibori Samples. The left sample is pink and blue, middle sample is white and blue and the one on the right is yellow blue.
Rini Cotton and silk fabrics dyed using a combination of Indigo pastes sourced from Kofar-mata dye pits in Kano, Nigeria and British plant-based dyes.
2 Mono-printed Indigo samples. 1st one has a diamond design with pink circles. 2nd one has a stripe pattern with yellow circles.
Mono-printed RiniExploring colours and patterns with mono-print.
Mandala patterned Indigo samples.
Resist-dyed AdiréMade using a katazome Japanese rice flour resist paste.
A close up of woven shibori samples
Shibori Samples

Imam embarked on an exploration of various Adiré techniques, including the renowned Japanese shibori method. To her surprise, she discovered remarkable similarities in the dyeing processes employed by Nigerian and Japanese cultures. Inspired by this shared ground, Imam experimented with Nigerian cassava paste resist recipes alongside the traditional Japanese katazome paste.

By seamlessly blending these diverse techniques and incorporating materials from both cultures, Imam aimed to weave a captivating visual narrative that paid homage to the intertwined artistic heritage of Nigeria and Japan. The resulting fusion of woven shibori became a metaphorical embodiment of the profound connections that manifest when diverse traditions are celebrated and explored. Imam's artistic intentions extend beyond the mere aesthetics of her work. She seeks to provoke contemplation and spark dialogues concerning the universal language of art and the innate commonalities that bridge cultural divides.

Tied Shibori sample showing circular patterns
Dipping a woven Shibori sample into an indigo dye vat
Woven Shibori Sample
 Sample 1: White with blue squares. Sample 2: Blue with a resist design. Sample 3: Shiny with blue and maroon stripes.