Trish Bygott

Madam Bukeshla owner/ designer

“This is important work, the world needs beauty. All of your heart, and all of your hand, and all of your love goes into this work.”

Walking into Madam Bukeshla in Fremantle, Western Australia, is like walking into the arms of a dear friend.

Owner and designer, Trish Bygott, welcomes all with equal measure. People are drawn to her and the music she creates with a needle and thread. Wearing Trish’s beautiful locally made garments provides the same sense of wellbeing. You are enveloped by warmth and beauty – inspired by this woman and her quiet determination to live the creative life, without compromise.

When Trish’s home with partner, Nathan Crotty, featured in the Design Files in 2013, it was one of the year’s most visited posts. The resourcefulness that sprang from necessity and the beauty begot of little resonated with many. The couple attracted the attention of Network Ten’s The Living Room soon after.

Trish experienced frustration from an early age. She was born in suburban Melbourne with a ‘profound creativity and passion’, a sensitivity that was little understood or nurtured. After gaining recognition as a textile artist, fresh from studies at Melbourne’s RMIT, past trauma came to undermine her newfound success. She says the resulting doubt, shame, restriction and strangulation account for her ‘rebirth’ in her mid-forties.

“The frustration’s still winding itself out of me. It shows me where to go and how to grow.

“At some point we have to retrace our trauma. I hadn’t realised until I had children how much my art, my making, was a part of me, my connection to the divine. Being in an insecure relationship and then as a single mother, that connection was taken away and I didn’t know who I was anymore. It was very painful. Until I woke up at 42 and said, ‘I’m really bitter, I’m really resentful, I’m incredibly angry, this isn’t what I came here for.’ And so I began the healing journey.

“Healing is pivotal in everything I do.”

“I am passionate about overcoming self doubt. I am determined we should not let that voice be the voice that guides us to our death beds. How many astounding women do we know who are hounded by that?

“We have come to this incredible place, with these astounding bodies, with this untold human potential, each of us has that capacity. We are at a point now for us to step into our power with pride.

“Rudolf Steiner said at the turn of the last century, ‘There’ll come a day on the planet where man will be so devoid of the hand touched that he will want to know, “Who made my butter? Who stitched my garment?”’ That’s what’s happening right now.”

6D: Tell me about the work you are doing in India.

“I’ve been passionate for a long time about the capacity for stitch to provide employment for women.”

“I’m drawn to India, it feels like home. It’s grace that Susie Vickery came into my life, she’s an amazing textile artist. Susie had lived in Nepal and Mumbai for many years, working with women in the slums. She introduced me to Mehzi. Over three years we’ve developed an exquisite relationship.

“We began with baby steps. I had to learn to let go, to collaborate. I didn’t want to just give instructions; I asked myself how I could honour Mehz’s creativity. She is a fountain and I don’t want to restrict that. It’s been incredibly thrilling, my heart’s just burst open with the joy of someone else’s work, and what it’s helped her achieve.

“Mehz says, ‘My family are so proud of me. You’ve given meaning to my life.’

“It’s not been easy for them; Mehz’s brother contracted cholera last year. But she’s taught her husband and sister to stitch, and they’ve been able to take out a loan. They’ve bought a car and her brother’s now an Uber driver.”

“It’s divine weaving, the beautiful openings that unfold when one dreams for long enough and the timing’s right.”

6D: What is special about textiles?

“There’s an incredible lineage in cloth. We’ve been stitching since we put two skins together. The moment we pick up needle and thread, we’re connected to this incredible lineage, the women who come to my workshops feel that and it helps them to connect and heal. To deeply nourish.

“There are cultures where cloth was more revered than gold. It was understood that cloth was sacred. Those exquisite embroidered garments, they were protective, and they were celebrated.”

6D: Tell me about the commission to create the crest for the Western Australian Supreme Court.

“I believe when you set your intention, the universe holds you to it. We were invited to tender for an embroidered, textile interpretation of the Western Australian crest for the ceremonial courtroom of the new WA Supreme Court (Civil). It took our work to a whole new level, it birthed untold potential in our relationship to cloth and making, and it contributed impetus to our work in India. It also reinforced our commitment to imbue the stitching of cloth with our pure intention. One of presence and beauty.

“It’s a powerful piece of work, and to be given permission to sit and stitch seven days a week in that sacred space, it doesn’t happen often.

“When you don’t know where to go or what you’re doing, you learn how to let go and say, ‘I’m a fool, show me.’ That’s when grace can enter, and I feel incredibly blessed to have reached that point in my life. The crest was one of those moments.”

“If there’s a word that threads through this story, it’s ‘grace’. It’s what happens when we know that we are looked after and there’s something greater than us.”

6D: What have you learned from growing your business?

“When we started eight years ago, Nathan and I wanted to show our children that we could make something from nothing, that you don’t have to have millions behind you, you just have to start.

“We’ve constantly questioned how to marry creativity and business. Business teaches you basic spiritual concepts: it shows you how to ‘do’ life. And that there’s room for everyone to thrive.

In order to grow the business, I’ve had to reconcile with the things I don’t like – social media, technology. But it reminds me of Jean Houston’s teachings on human potential, she talks about ‘high tech, high touch’. You can bring your intention – the love, the care that goes into a garment, to the on-line world.

“I do not like the culture we live in, that has pitted women against each other. When looking through some websites yesterday with my mentor, I said, ‘Look at what I’m up against.’

“And she said, ‘You’re not up against anything. Your offering, is your offering.’ It was good to be reminded.”

6D: Who inspires you?

“What inspires me are women who are ‘doing it’. Who aren’t afraid, but they don’t stomp. People with astounding ethics, incredible integrity, who offer beautiful products. Those women who are successful but continue to offer incredible generosity.”

“The moment we combine our hand and heart in the process – gardening, cooking, stitch – our mind is switched off. We are given the opportunity to access stillness. The moment we access stillness, there’s room for healing.”