POLITICS, ART & SILK SCARVES
Bulgarian artist and designer, Silviya Saikali, has crafted a colourful career designing bright and curious silk scarves. Inspired by her life living between Milan and Sydney, her designs are eclectic and fun, with a wink to current events.
There’s something about art and politics that go so well together. Even the subtlest nod to a contentious issue can influence discourse on a specific issue within the public subconscious. In today’s environment, where both sides of the argument can be frustratingly black and white, it’s refreshing to see current issues reflected in a medium that’s full of colour and life, draped comfortably around throats instead of forced down them.
Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Silviya Saikali has crafted a career as colourful as her creations. Cutting her teeth as a creative graphic designer for Italian fashion house Moschino, Saikali has used her work experience and Fine Art Degree from Milan’s Istituto Europeo di Design to collaborate with a range of fashion, furniture and jewellery designers.
In 2011, Saikali launched her luxury label, Silviya Neri, where she began printing her designs onto 100% silk scarves in Como, Italy. “I chose silk as it has thousands of years of history,” explained Saikali. “It’s the perfect canvas for my drawings, and will make any woman wearing it feel amazing.”
Inspiration for her collection, Cabinet of Curiosities, comes from a range of sources. Living in Italy piqued Saikali’s fascination with antiquity and preserved natural curiosities, but it’s the slight hint towards current events that bring relevance and life to the accessories.
“I feel strongly about many issues, and try to weave them into the story without being too political,” said Saikali, referring to the stunning ‘Sailors’ scarf. Depicting two male sailors kissing, the design is dedicated to her friends in Italy.
Although married to an Australian, she is not yet a citizen and unable to vote in the recent Same Sex Marriage plebiscite. Regardless, Saikali believes that love will always prevail and win. “Love is everything. (Sailors) is a flag to express my feelings,” she said.
“The female body is the ultimate sensual creation,” she explains.
I was surprised to see the scarves modelled on nude, faceless models. In what almost feels objectifying, the artist insists it’s a compliment to the female form. “The female body is the ultimate sensual creation,” she explains. In keeping the models anonymous, the artist feels it allows clients to imagine themselves wearing the scarves.
I’m not entirely convinced, but it is a good way to get people talking–and thinking–about the female form and normalisation of nudity. The more we discuss, the more we progress – and that’s part of the beauty of merging art and politics.