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The magical inspiration behind the Wilderness collection...

27th February 2019

To celebrate the launch of the Wilderness collection, we'd love you to join us as we uncover the fascinating inspiration behind our enchanting new scarves. Delve deep into Emma's creative mind and learn about the origin of the brand new Lynx and Protea designs, plus remind yourself of how the best selling Kruger came to be. As always, we're giving you the ultimate insight into Emma's own primary research plus secondary points of reference she worked from while designing the Wilderness scarves. Read on to discover more or click here to shop the scarves now...

The Wilderness scarf collection is made up of 3 designs: the Lynx, Protea and Kruger across a range of vibrantly coloured silk and modal and cashmere scarves. Each was created from exquisite hand drawn illustrations, depicting a slice of the imaginative world of Emma J Shipley.

Discover the origins of the three enchanting Wilderness scarf designs: Lynx, Kruger and Protea - all hand drawn by designer Emma J Shipley

As with all of our designs to date, the underlying source of inspiration comes from a surreal combination of the natural world and a mysterious realm built inside Emma's imagination. The Wilderness collection is no different, with 3 fantastical scenes filled with half-real half-imaginary wildlife and mythological symbolism. It was largely inspired by Emma's recent research trip to the Cederberg mountains and wilderness area in South Africa. Here she was inspired by incredible thousands-of-years-old rock paintings in their original setting, and the mythology of the indigenous hunter-gatherers, the San people. This collection is Emma's own take on that magical African spirit and mythology; a celebration of the indigenous people and wildlife of South Africa...

The Wilderness collection by Emma J Shipley is a unique scarf range inspired by the wildlife, culture and enchanting mythology of South Africa and the indigenous San people. Some of Emma's key influences came from the ancient rock paintings of the Cederberg

The Lynx Design

The Lynx design features a pair of magnificent winged lynx leaping over an enchanting scene below. Other prominent animals from San mythology, including the dassie, eland and jackal are all present among a scene of exotic foliage and surreal EJS touches. Complete with a graphic, scalloped edge and twinkling starry sky, this design is perfect to evoke a feeling of African enchantment to your wardrobe. Pictured below is a selection of reference images which influenced this magical design. From San rock paintings and African wildlife imagery to vintage postcards and anatomical illustrations - as well as some of Emma's own photographs taken during her trip to South Africa...

Discover the influences behind Emma J Shipley's magical Lynx design, part of our Wilderness scarf collection. The key inspiration for this design came from Emma's recent trip to South Africa. The wildlife and indigenous culture of the San people that she experienced here fuelled her exquisite hand drawn design. Here you can see some of Emma's own photographs from trip, as well as other references such as postcards, vintage illustrations and paintings

The main inspiration behind this new design came from the awe-inspiring landscape and wildlife of South Africa; the mythology of the indigenous San people; and the sense of magic surrounding their culture and traditions, all of which Emma was able to experience whilst on her research trip. Combined with her previous travels through Africa and her fascination of everything fantasy, this incredible trip sponsored by Arts Council England was the perfect adventure to inspire the Lynx design.

Not all of Emma's inspiration comes from the creatures of the Earth...the sky of the Lynx design is filled with twinkling stars and symbols from the world of astronomy. Vintage illustrations of space and 19th century astronomical star charts were a key influence of these subtle details. Below you can see the fantastical Lynx and Telescopium Herschelii star chart card found in Urania's Mirror from 1824, which played an important role in designing the composition of the Lynx.

Emma takes inspiration from all kinds of visuals, and this is the perfect example. Pictured is the Lynx and Telescopium Hershelii star chart card from 1824's Urania's Mirror

At the start of the design process for each collection Emma creates a range of moodboards full of primary and secondary references; photos, postcards, leaflets, sketches, book covers and a plethora of other visuals to inspire her while she hand draws each design. Take a look at some of the key images which inspired the Lynx design below...

Emma's moodboards for the Wilderness collection are fascinating to explore. You can find vintage illustrations of African wildlife; postcards; Emma's photographs from her South African trip and of course the rock paintings created thousands of years ago by the indigenous San hunter-gatherers, all of which inspired the creation of the Lynx design

The Wilderness collection hosts a bold array of vivid colours - perhaps the most exciting colour combinations of all of our recent scarf ranges. Pale pink contrasts with intense navy and bright magenta, while lush greens, acid lime and bright coral mirror the vibrancy of African wildlife. As with the designs themselves, the colour choices Emma made for this collection are a direct reflection of her time spent in South Africa. From the natural colours found in the areas surrounding Table Mountain, to the striking Zulu beadwork on display at the Iziko Museum archive, colour inspiration was not hard to come by. Discover some of these intense colours within Emma's photos below...

The beautiful Zulu beadwork on display at the Iziko Museum acted as perfect colour inspiration for Emma during her trip. These vibrant hues would go on to inspire her choices of colours when designing the Wilderness scarves

The lush colours of South Africa were another constant and lasting source of inspiration for the colour palettes used in this collection. Here you can see the enchanting views surrounding Table Mountain, overlooking Cape Town

The Kruger Design

The Kruger design is an older illustration, created as part of the Audubon collection back in 2014. Having become one of our most popular designs across nearly all of our product lines, we thought it was about time to re-issue it in scarf-form. Whether you're a seasoned Kruger fan or it's your first time meeting this EJS classic, read on to explore some of Emma's original inspiration...

The classic Kruger illustration by Emma J Shipley was inspired by a fantastical safari adventure through South Africa. The creatures and details within the design were influenced by Emma's travels as well as her love of fantasy, mythology and ancient theory

The heart of this signature illustration comes from Emma's travels through South Africa, as well as her love of all things fantasy. A pair of winking giraffes surround a majestic palm tree, while unicorn zebras dance among a scene of twisting foliage, soaring hummingbirds and plenty of hidden details. Key elements from Emma's research include photos from her own travels, vintage posters and illustrations, ancient diagrams, fantasy stories and paintings. To mark its re-issue, we've introduced a new range of multi-hued colourways, all inspired by the vibrant colour of South Africa.

Photographs taken by Emma herself during her time in South Africa. The curious giraffes and striking zebras inspired the main subjects of the Kruger design. of course, lots of special EJS twists are added to make these animals belong in the world of Emma J Shipley...

As well as looking to wildlife for inspiration, the Kruger design also features details influenced by both ancient philosophy and the magical world of mythology. If you look closely you'll notice a number of 3D geometric shapes within the surreal scene. These elements are inspired by platonic solids, which were the 5 geometric objects named after the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. The enchanting palm tree between the spotted giraffes represents a version of the mythology behind the tree of soul concept. In a section of Emma's original moodboard below, you can see some of the 'tree of soul' imagery which inspired not only the subjects of the design, but also the composition of the original drawing.

Left: Visions from Emma's original moodboard when the Kruger design came to life in 2014. You can see the tree of soul images throughout. Right: a depiction of Plato's 5 geometric objects known as platonic solids. Similar shapes can be found throughout the Kruger design

The Protea Design

The Protea design is named after the beautiful national flower of South Africa, which takes centre stage in this fantastical design. A mischievous mantis sits upon the striking flower, surrounded by key San animals with hunter-gatherer characteristics and framed with a winding path of wild foliage. Lose yourself in the fascinating references below, including a variety of Emma's own photos from her visit to the rock art in the Cederberg...

Emma's references behind the magical Protea design lie within the San community. The awe-inspiring rock paintings left behind by San hunter-gathers and the key creatures of San mythology were the key influences behind this new design. Again, within this moodboard are a lot of Emma's own photographs from her South African adventure

In each corner of the Protea design lives a different key creature from the culture of the San people: the zebra, oryx, lion and eland. Each animal includes half-real half-imaginary features, giving them a special EJS twist. All 4 creatures have hunter-gatherer characteristics, inspired by 'therianthropes' seen in rock paintings, where humans take on animal form.

Emma's visit to the Cederberg mountains was the key influence behind the mesmerising Protea design. The Cederberg is one of the richest areas of rock art in the world, home to not only stunning scenery but fascinating thousands-of-years old artworks across its rock formations. Most of the paintings are in small shelters or rock overhands; despite being affected by weather and time, the paintings have an astounding staying power. The painters of these images were masters of their tools and their memories; their ability to depict animals from memory is incredible. Click here to read more about Emma's experience in the Cederberg mountains.

Below you can see some of the references in Emma's moodboards, including more of her own photos taken during the trip...

Primary and secondary research from Emma's moodboard while designing the Protea. Key animals from San mythology such as the lion, eland and mantis were key influences to Emma during the design process, as well as the colours and textures of the wilderness area in South Africa

Here are 2 of Emma's own photographs taken during her trip. Left: a section of the mesmerising rock paintings found in the Cederberg mountains. These depictions are thousands of years old. Right: the beautiful protea is not only the name of this enchanting design, but also the beautiful native flower of South Africa. Here you can see the vibrant colours of the botanical delight

Whether its the magnificent Lynx, the classic Kruger or the exquisite Protea, the Wilderness collection has a design for everybody; each full of creatures to meet and enchanting adventures to enjoy...

The Wilderness collection is now available to shop on the online store - which EJS treasure if your favourite? Click here to shop the range...

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