The Ayers Rock Collection

11. The Ayers Rock Collection

Zandra Rhodes first visited Australia in 1971 to promote her work and fell in love with the country. During her trip she kept seeing postcards of Ayers Rock, now known primarily by its Aboriginal name, Uluru.

Photograph of Ayers Rock from nosha, on Flickr
Above: Photograph of Ayers Rock, courtesy of nosha.

In 1973 she returned again to Australia for work and this time she was determined to make a visit to the Rock. Out in the desert she walked, climbed, explored, and drew the Rock surrounded by sharp tufts of Spinifex grass punctuating the desert landscape like big pin cushions. She later developed these sketches of the Rock and the native Spinifex grasses into her print design called 'Ayers Rock'.

'Ayers Rock' print in the 'Textile Design Bible', Zandra Rhodes
Above: 'Ayers Rock' print in the 'Textile Design Bible' © Zandra Rhodes.

As Zandra Rhodes explains in the video, the 'Ayers Rock' print was based on the idea of creating a new version of the eighteenth-century French Toile de Jouy technique of fine engravings. She translated the sketches from her trip into fine line drawings, which she then cut up and moved around to try them out in different combinations.

She used the resultant print design on big square capes such as the turquoise felt cloak shown in the video. The print can also be seen on a one-shoulder silk chiffon dress, which was photographed for Vogue and also worn by Jackie Kennedy Onassis. This dress was also chosen by Zandra Rhodes as her favourite for the inaugural exhibition 'My Favourite Dress', at the Fashion and Textiles Museum in 2003, which included a number of personal favourites chosen by famous designers. The one-shoulder dress design has become a Zandra Rhodes classic, which the designer has reinterpreted using other prints throughout her career.