Presenting Project Paisley: Celebrating the pattern of people and place / by lucy jefferies

To celebrate the rich cultural exchange between India and the UK, we are launching Project Paisley as part of Camden Kalã Camden's annual arts programme. Project Paisley invites communities and visitors of all ages take part in designing a unique Paisley pattern for Camden.

Over the summer we will be exploring this universal pattern and its ability to conjure memories of people and places. In keeping with Camden’s vibrant counterculture roots and reputation as a place where fashion, culture and music collide, Project Paisley will explore individual expression, freedom and non-conformity through pattern, shape and colour. Design your own pattern and connect with others through Project Paisley.

You don’t have to look too far to spot the Paisley design. A much-loved decorative staple in wardrobes and homes all over the world, Paisley is a distinctive design of intricate patterns featuring droplet shaped motifs. With its Persian and Indian origins, the pattern has travelled far and wide through the ages. The design has influenced the fabric of our lives not only through our clothes and our homes but our values and our contemporary cultural too. Crossing cultures and ages, Paisley is the only pattern that sits comfortably in your grandma’s wardrobe and at the same time makes a statement in the bandana of a punk rocker.

The pattern spans different religions and faiths and for many, the motif represents the seed of life, growth and eternity whilst for others it is a symbol of freedom, mysticism and counterculture. In the 1960s musical icons such as The Beatles began visiting India, sharing its music, culture and philosophy. Paisley became widely adopted by musicians and artists as a symbol for rebellion and progress. It became a statement of non-conformity and has been linked with encouraging a spirit of multi-culturalism in the UK, representing solidarity across faiths and cultures.

Much like the sprawling Borough of Camden, Paisley is a pattern that meanders and takes you on a journey in different directions. The pattern of our lives give shape to our memories. We make our mark through the lines we travel, the twists and turns we take and small flourishes made. As part of Project Paisley textile artist, Saj Fareed, will design a Paisley pattern for Camden inspired by the diverse designs, stories and journeys shared through Project Paisley workshops.

Explore what Paisley means to you, share your memories of this unique pattern and learn how to make beautiful designs with a variety of materials from drawing and collage to printing and stamping. Free workshops open to all ages will take place in Camden throughout July and August with the final Project Paisley design going on show at Swiss Cottage Library in September.

We will be announcing dates of our workshops soon – check back here for more info!

Spot the Paisley all around you! Maybe it’s a droplet design in a garden gate or an elaborate design in the lady’s scarf sitting in front of you on the bus. Get snapping and share your everyday Paisley photos on social media using the hashtag #ProjectPaisley and #CamdenKala