Friday, 26 November 2010

Diaghilev at the V&A

YSL Ballets Russes Collections

Just finished yet another highly interesting day of lectures and a museum visit led by the amazing Clare Rose. This week's topic was exoticism in design around 1900 with a particular focus on Orientalism. Asia was perceived by Europeans as an intriguing, fantastical world and increasingly, Asian motifs and influences filtered into all areas of European design, from a Chinese style pagoda in Kew Gardens to the inclusion of a Japanese print in Van Gogh's 1889 self-portrait. She raised an interesting point that middle eastern women's dress with loose flowing fabric such as harem trousers and their covered faces were a total contrast to the corseted 'protected' female bodies of the west. Europeans believed this choice of loose dress immediately eluded to sexual connotations. The influence of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes from 1909 through to its economic collapse in 1929 was phenomenal. It unarguably revolutionized early 20th century arts and continues to influence cultural activity today. It is easy to see why this particular ballet company had such an astounding effect. The bold, bright costumes, Asian influenced dance movements unusual musical accompaniment defied everyone's common expectation of a ballet. The richly embellished costumes and incredibly elaborate set design are of real beauty and provide a wealth of inspiration. In the final room the male dance costumes of Giorgio de Chirico, which are highly influenced by architecture put further emphasis on the strong connection between fashion and architecture as discussed at last night's talk at the Barbican. His bold graphic use of line reminded me of Holly Fulton's print designs.

Designer Giorgio de Chirico's ballet costumes

Holly Fulton's Spring/Summer 11 Collection

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Print design inspiration.

During our print class today I took a look at Kenny's print design books and noted a few artists work that interested me. I particularly liked the work of Tal Rosner as he unusually transforms dreary, urban buildings and objects into mesmerizing patterns. It taught me that shape and line are all around us. His video, 'Doppelganger' on his personal website is well worth a look. Funnily enough, on my walk this afternoon to my friend's house in Battersea I was struck by the stunning block shape of Battersea Power Station reflected in the Thames. I am definitely inspired to create a digital design using the buildings of London now!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Ideas for print

A few weeks ago I took the opportunity to pop to the Textile and Fashion Design Museum in Bermondsey to have a look at the Horrockses Fashion exhibition. My main reason for visiting was to hopefully get inspired for my forthcoming ‘Print’ technical block as I’d heard that the fashion company, from the 40s and 50s was well know for its’ popular eye popping feminine prints. As anticipated, there were plenty of chintzy floral examples but what I liked best were the prints generated from the work of contemporary artists, such as Graham Sutherland, Eduardo Paolozzi and Louis le Brocquy. I was particularly fond of the stylized, abstract patterns of designer and textile artist Alistair Morton. During our drawing week at uni, I had been struggling to understand the type of drawings needed for print. My simple line drawings of keys were really bland and uninspirational. The abstract motifs and stylized patterns are more appropriate for the creation of a fabric used for fashion and interiors. Another designer whose simple prints caught my eye was Pat Albeck. Back at home I found more examples of her work on her website. Admittedly, her current floral, chintzy work is not really to my taste, but the work she created during the 50s and 60s is very contrasting. Abstract and expressive, her designs feature bold art-deco prints which I am certain would be appropriate for present day fashion and interiors.

Some examples of Pat Albeck's designs.


During my stay at home this weekend, my mum and I decided to visit a nearby town called Church Stretton. A few people had really recommended I visit a junk shop there, which was apparently ‘right up my street’. After a challenging mission trying to track down the place, we eventually located Scrappies. It was an incredible place! As I’m currently on the look-out for ideas of collections for my Pop-Up 2 project I couldn’t quite believe that I had stepped into an 'aladins warehouse' full of collected random items. Barrels of coloured lids, zips, corks, watch straps, fabric scraps, plant pots, nurse’s uniforms, empty frames, pen lids etc etc. You name it, they had it. It’s so interesting how an object which can appear rather boring on its own can look absolutely mind-boggling when presented in hundreds. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of some of the ‘junk’, which as well as being seriously inspiring, is also ridiculously cheap! I will definitely be revisiting this place.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Congratulations Mary Katrantzou!

Rosamund Pike last month in a Katrantzou print from Autumn/Winter 2010.

Another contemporary fashion designer who I find particularly inspiring is Mary Katrantzou and I was so pleased to read yesterday that she won the prestigious Swiss Textiles Award 2010. My friend Lauren first introduced me to Katrantzou, the 'Princess of Prints' as she completed a placement at the studio. Her S/S 11 collection is so quirky and original with surreal prints, embellishment, fringing etc etc capturing images of lush and extravagant living spaces.

Excited for print.

I have come across the work of Holly Fulton once before but cannot for the life of me remember where! I bumped into to my friend Dominic, a fashion student at Kingston who has recently completed an internship with her and who told me to take a look at her most recent work. Her bold, geometric prints seem to play an equally important role as the design of her garments and stand out as being extremely edgy and contemporary. It really demonstrates the power of a print and has made me even more excited to start my technical block in print this Monday!

Here's some striking examples from her S/S 11 collection.

One block down!

So my technical block in stitch is over! Admittedly, not all samples are finished, but I haven’t really found ‘the one’ technique to perfectly reflect the mottled rusty effect of my old keys so I’m exploring a range of possibilities. The block has been interesting but certainly a challenge, especially when a technique ends up looking like a lumpy piece of hospital carpet! The key is to just keep going, brainstorming and experimenting……mentally exhausting!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

An original combination of forensic science and textiles!

Not the easiest Gallery to access, it is not often that I have traveled to the PM Gallery. The last time was early February when I was impressed considerably by an exhibition of Extreme Embroidery. This time, I was again intrigued by a textile offering. ‘Revealing Evidence’, showcased a collaboration of photography by Sarah Pickering and textile installations by Shelly Goldsmith. Both artists presented work inspired by the methods and thought processes of forensic scientists and sought to fill their work with eerie imagined scenarios and hidden experiences. The large photographs were rather unsettling and disturbing. Featuring ravaging house fires with burning dolls houses and bearing titles such as ‘Glue Sniffing Kids’ I found them unnecessarily unpleasant and far too real. However, I felt the textile garments were less obvious and more thought provoking. Goldsmith explored several techniques- printing with colour, searing with a laser and ornamenting garments with imagined stories to convey how psychological states and intense emotions can remain as memories, embedded within the clothes we wear. I believe the altered garments really did echo the presence of a life and a story, all be it a rather grim one. This is one of her primary intentions- to provoke us into constructing scenarios and making assumptions so this interactive element certainly keeps you hooked. Her printed dresses, such as ‘Next to her Sister’, with their fuschia splodges remind me of Alexander Mc Queen designs but on closer inspection the miniature crime scene tapes around them construct a narrative of underlying horror. Torture and death feature less subtly on some of the other garments, embellished with words of deathly descriptions, e.g. ‘my veins run with a sticky black substance’. Other garments feature delicately laser drawings and it is their horrendous titles instead (such as ‘After the Flood it Got Very Hot’) which suggest the morbid circumstances. I really liked the alternative approach of the gallery, using the PM Houses’ antique furniture as a set stage to drape the garments and create a real context for the suggested horror. The exhibition was so original and it was refreshing to be so involved with a constructed narrative as opposed to feeling like a mere viewer.

The controversial subject of taxidermy

One of my flatmates studies jewellery design at LCF and has a particular fascination with the use of taxidermy within her work. With the help of certain celebrities (primarily the crazy accessories of Miss Lady Gaga), I believe this old traditional skill is becoming increasingly popular. It disgusts and repels many and I’m split between this negative opinion and that of interest and intrigue. I am definitely a fan of Noble and Webster’s Isabella Blow sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery. It’s so perplexing and skilled how a spotlight shone onto what appears to be a ball of stuffed birds, rats and snakes can translate into a vivid shadow silhouette of Blow’s head. I don’t think I would necessarily like to parade around with a stuffed rat attached to my hair, but I can really appreciate the clever use f the animals within this work.

The Importance of colour

I recently took a visit to the Courthauld Gallery, a gallery I had never visited before. I wanted to take a look at two exhibitions- one a Mathew Williamson exhibition and the other a small exhibit of a few of Cezanne's sketches and paintings of Card Players. The Williamson exhibition consisted of a few images and was frankly rather small and disappointing. On the other hand the beauty of the Cezanne canvases certainly made up for this disappointment. Having spent considerable time in the south of France, I am particularly drawn to the ambling scenery and relaxed atmosphere he always succeeds in capturing in his painting. This exhibition however, just focused on one aspect of the artist’s work- his series of canvases and sketches of Card Players. What struck me most, was the intensity of the green and blue hues of colour radiating from the paintings which gives them such a striking presence. The importance of colour is something I hope to investigate further during my course as I am presently not very confident with my use of bold colour within my work.