Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Royal College- 'Work in progress'
Today I visited the 'Work in Progress' exhibition of the textile, fashion and jewelery MA students of the Royal College and can honestly say it was truly inspirational. Innovative prints, knits and weaves that have given me significant food for thought. Also the students were having a sort of group crit and I was cheeky enough to tag along and listen to some of the comments. It certainly helped me to understand the work better as many pieces had no blurb or explanation.
Kaori Takasu's weaves did need a bit of explaining as it was more the concept behind the creation rather than its final aesthetic appearance that interested the artist.
The process involves making thread windings, printing on these windings and then unraveling them before winding them again around a different objects. In this case she chose a traditional Japanese sliding door. As I have just returned from my holiday in Japan I can definitely appreciate the simplistic asian style of the object. The artist said that she hopes to develop her idea by making the windings more interactive. The tutors questioned the point of printing an image which consequently gets destroyed and no longer is visible, why not just used dip dyed yarns? They also encouraged her to experiment with yarns of varying thickness as they would absorb different amounts of colour and add further depth and interest.
These were not the only wrappings in the exhibition. You couldn't help notice Ayse Simsek's huge window sized wrappings. Incredibly complex and visually pleasing, the artist (a Chelsea textiles graduate!) had just sold three of her canvases to an interior design company who wanted to make them into wall paper prints. She highly recommended specializing in weave at Chelsea too!
Another stand out exhibit was the fabric origami. Inspired by architecture and her love of drawing, the artist liked the notion of revealing and concealing pattern within the origami sculptures and although she agreed that the fabrics would work well as garments draped over the body, she also was keen on experimenting with other media such as wood.
Some students had displayed sketchbooks which I always find really interesting as it reveals so much about their thought processes and development. The weaver Teresa Georgallis had worked with the theme of sound. She had studied the lines created by electronic music recordings and was especially interested with errors and blips which caused the lines to become irregular. She had then investigated this idea of irregular lines in nature. The repetition, pattern and sequence of line is visible in her weaves.
Interesting sketchbook pages from a weave student inspired by building structures and windows, chains, slate, bark, soil patterns etc-
I was quite surprised to see that plastic was incorporated into many students work given our new environmental awareness of the wasteful nature of the textile industry and the new importance placed upon eco-textiles. Quite a few of the knitters worked with plastics-
Plastic ties knitted together were the basis of Stephanie Szumlakauski's work.
And a couple of the artists had used plastic straws-
Sophie Waterfiels knits were full of straws which had been cut and manipulated to give them a delicate, expensive and classy appearance without loosing their identity, e.g. the classic stripey straws has been flattened together and cut into disks as a fringing.
Some of the exhibits were displayed so thoughtfully. I especially remember Sarah Lindstrom's miniature organic, natural growths inspired by her trips to the natural history museum. Their considered display in orderly specimen jars gave them such a precious, valuable appearance. As far as nature was concerned, I also was really drawn to Marie Molterer's print work tracking growth patterns of cress seedling in all types of fabric from cotton wool to a ball of yarn. I really like the spontaneous, earthy patterns and colours of her prints.
Amy Ellis's prints on leather. After my visit to an incredible leather shop in Nippori fabric town in Tokyo I am particularly interested in experimenting with this fabric and its properties.
The exhibition also featured information on students thesis. Of special interest were-
*Julie Behseta who was recycling high density polyethylene to make new matter with functionality and new aesthetics.
Fibres, yarns, woven fabric and cloth are all encapsulated within the transparent recycled plastic.
*Myrto Karanika who was investigating the concept of interactive textile membranes, e.g. touch or pressure sensitive fabric, knitted heat conductive wire etc.
This artist was investigating the work of the following-
-Alinah Azadeh http://www.alinahazadeh.com/
Origin interactive: Crafting Space
-Susie Freeman- Cradle to Grave (I saw this incredible blanket of pills at the British Museum)
-Elena Crochero- Solar vintage project
Some thesis investigated sustainable fabric and the company 'Cradle to Cradle' was discussed as an environmentally conscious business. I was drawn to Kirsten Scott's Pidgin Plait, an intricate straw braiding method from Uganda which risks becoming extinct.
As well as the incredible textiles and fashion, the jewelery ranged form the fascinating, intriguing to the utterly bizzare. Necklaces made out of animal guts and human skin, adornments made from hair, sunglasses arms made from jaw bones and teeth etc. My favourite exhibit however, was very simple and straightforward but extremely striking and moving. Here is a picture, I wonder if you agree....