Interior designer finds inspiration in ancient pottery and carvings
"I was looking for local Indigenous design like Anishinaabe or Cree, Métis, Dakota," she said. "Something that reflected home and where we live in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was a struggle. There was nothing."
Seymour, an Anishinaabe interior designer, mother and home renovator said there were plenty of West Coast inspired pieces to choose from, from shower curtains to coasters. She also found a lot of Navajo inspired decor but when it came to Anishinaabe, Cree, Métis, or Dakota designs, she came up empty.
So Seymour filled in that space herself. She took a silkscreening class, to learn techniques on how to create patterns on fabric and created Indigo Arrows.
Inspiration in History
But where to find the inspiration for her new skill?
"I went to visit a good friend of mine, Kevin Brownlee at the [Manitoba] Museum. He runs the department of archeology and he was showing me all the amazing pottery they found on their archeology digs," she recalled.
"These are thousands of years old that were found here on the river banks. Just to think about our ancestors making these products and storing food and water and cooking in them."
When Brownlee showed her the storage room with shelves crowded with artifacts and pottery, that's when inspiration hit.
"I thought what a perfect way to start reviving these patterns and putting them in our home as an everyday thing. We are not artifacts. It's something that we could celebrate and then have more of an awareness of our cultural heritage," she said.
Seymour set to work, spending hours holding and sketching the pottery shards, pieces of history, turning them over and over like bone memory.
"There was this one elk antler bone and someone turned it into a scraper tool. But on the bone they created all these circles and patterns and dots and indents and that one was 400 years old," she said.
"So the first set of tea towels, I call the pattern bezhig, number one, that one reflects that bone tool and all those amazing patterns that someone here in Manitoba made 400 years ago."
Appreciation vs. Appropriation
"It's one thing to be inspired by the pattern, I think acknowledging where it came from, who made these patterns, so that it is also a teaching tool," she said.
"I think that a lot of the appropriation [that other brands have been criticized for] ... it's stealing because they claim it's their own pattern, that it came from them, when really it's a pattern that came from a family that's generations old."