RA Smart creates flags with 'incredible colours' for Rivers of the World art project

December 02, 2020
School pupils saw their artwork turned into flags by RA Smart using an HP Stitch, and displayed along the Thames walkway in central London School pupils saw their artwork turned into flags by RA Smart using an HP Stitch, and displayed along the Thames walkway in central London

RA Smart, the exclusive UK reseller of the HP Stitch dye sublimation printer series, has used an HP Stitch S1000 digital textile printing system to produce artworks for the Thames Festival Trust - output that impressed artist Shona Watt with its 'amazing details' and 'incredible colours'.

Led by Shona Watt, the Trust's Rivers of the World education programme sees UK secondary school children partner with schools in countries such as Ethiopia, Sudan, Morocco, Tanzania, Lebanon and India. In the first half of each two-year programme the pupils study the river in their home city; in their second part they learn about their partner school's nearest major river. Based on themes including River of Life, Working River and Polluted River, the students work together to create artworks that Shona combines into a single piece per school.

In other years the Rivers of the World pieces were printed only onto rigid boards for public display but for 2020, inspired by previous work using flags as her medium, Shona commissioned RA Smart to print six flags using the HP Stitch.

HP Stitch uses dye sublimation technology designed specifically for large format textile applications including interior décor, sportswear and fashion, and soft signage. It is also ideal for flags, as Shona explains.

Digital printing creates such brilliant detail," says London-based Shona, who has been the lead artist on Rivers of the World since its inception 16 years ago. "I'd never seen that before we saw the samples from RA Smart. The colours are incredible.

"Printed on boards, art pieces look the same as on a computer screen, but on flags the colour is on both sides, the light comes through and there is movement. I'll have to use digital printing for flags in my own work!"

The Rivers of the World exhibition, comprising flags and display boards, was held on the Thames walkway outside the Tate Modern gallery in London in September.

Seeing their work on display was a big deal for the students, many of whom had never seen the Thames in central London before," says Shona. "The Rivers of the World programme is very different to how art is taught on the curriculum so getting kids interested in art this way is really positive."

She adds: "Getting permission to install flags in public spaces is quite difficult so we were only able to have six, but we're working on using more flags in future projects."

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