2016 Paintings - Writing - Garment Collection
This project began with a series of oil paintings, the first painting of a huge red beetle standing over a sleeping woman, emerged from a sort of woken dream fantasy. As the project continued it developed towards being an exploration of the relationship between repulsion and attraction and when a repulsion can transform into a situation of being silently seduced. The artworks and written works were completed simultaneously and so influenced each other greatly. They explore a ‘lonely and insolent’ woman’s journey through into a manic state of being overtaken by a mental obsession with all what disgusts her. The project became a distillation of a psychological horror into a still format.
The garment collection came later, a development towards a wearable reflection of the project. The clothes make use of materials such as rope and leather cord creating a bound association in the knitted pieces and then with the embroidered work there was the opportunity to be much more literal and pictorial whereas the knitted pieces often become quite abstract. The focus was much more on clear direct imagery, a horrific fantasy portrayed through garments.
‘The secret soft depths of silence.’
The written work in this project was influenced mainly by ‘lyrical outburst’ forms of writing such as explored by Anaïs Nin in ‘The House Of Insest’ and Leonora Carrington in ‘Down Below’, as well as the dream like sequences in the center section of Ingeborg Backmann’s ‘Malina’ and Werner Shroeter’s film adaptation. Visually a main source of influence came from a small collection of Salavdor Dalí paintings entitled ‘Marquis de Sade’ which show women in varying states of distress, including one image of a chained woman with huge oversized ants crawling across her legs. The painting ‘The Perversions of Quiet Girls’ takes influence from this image. The garment designs began with a simple translation of this painting idea into a free hand embroidered silk slip dress with the insects crawling in a similar fashion. The colour pallet for the garments was influenced by the paintings; beetle colours composed with flesh tones, pale skin pinks approaching white in coldness.
Mythological descents into the underworld also took a key role in influence over this work, including that of Persephone, Odysseus and Psyche, specifically as told by Kathy Acker in her piece ‘Psyche’s Journal’ which was written for the exhibition catalogue to Cathy de Monchaux’s 1997 White Chapel show. The piece explores the myth of Eros and Psyche with Psyche reading an abstract projection of her life in a book as she lives it, going through the story of the myth whilst simultaneously walking through the corridors of the exhibition and experiencing the artworks. Aesthetic and film inflences also include Sergi Parajanov’s The Colour Of Pomegranates, Andrzej Zulowski’s Szamanka and Possession as well as Pasolini’s Salò.
This capsule collection was heavily influenced by an idea presented by Mary Russo in Female Grotesques: Carnival and Theory, focusing on a woman “making a spectacle out of herself”, which it seems is a specifically feminine danger; “the danger was of an exposure”. The collection drew inspiration from the ways in which a woman can create a spectacle out of herself, which seem to be primarily and most obviously relating to her body. Images such as, rippling thighs, fat stomachs, stretch marks, bulging veins, exposed underwear, really any sort of exposure. The collection explores a need for control in these sorts of circumstances through binding and strapping and then the more fetishistic “votaries of tight-lacing”, as researched though Valerie Steele’s Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power. Fashion inspirations for the fetishistic element have some from bondage imagery as well as inspirations from designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier who has repeatedly uses fetishistic binding and feminine exaggerations in his work, and also from some feminist artists such as Cathy de Monchaux for her use of strapping and overtly feminine imagery. Influences for the over stuffed and full areas of this collection came from the 1997 Comme des Garcons collection, Body Meets Dress. Influences for an emotional fullness and exaggeration have come from films exploring a feminine loss of boundaries and the creation of a female spectacle, such as; John Cassavetes –Woman Under the Influence and Gloria, as well as Erick Zonca’s Julia. The collection question perceptions of control, an intentional spectacle is empowering whereas a loss of control makes it vulgar and an embarrassing humiliation.
-----HOW TO FEEL SAFE
"There are an estimated 80,000 chemicals in use today in our environment, only 30% of which have been tested, either individually or in combination, for their effect on human health." - Arizona Centre for Advanced Medicine
Collection for A/W 2014. It was initially inspired by a personal reaction to chemicals, beginning in a toothpaste allergy and then expanding, mostly as a result of fear and paranoia. The paranoia lead to an exploration of what allergy becomes in its most extreme instance.
There is such a huge clash in opinions and actions relating to where safety from chemicals lays. Many people who claim to be hypersensitive to chemicals, in a desperate attempt to escape what is hurting them, end up living sealed-off, hyper synthetic lives where everything is covered in plastic casings rather than returning to nature to seek out salvation from synthetic materials. As an example of this, there is experimentation within the collection of the combination of organic materials and yarns and ‘organic-look’ yarns, that give the aesthetic of being environmentally responsible, and that’s all. The collection aims to create an atmosphere of chemical awareness but at the same time be hypocritical.
The garments in the collection are not exactly uni-sex but they are not necessarily gender specific; it is sex-less clothing. Taking the primary form of aprons and protective overalls in combination with 'infected' under-garments. They depict the sensitive, negative reactions that can potentially erupt in response to materials that are intended to protect you. Styled with ribbed safety gloves and white safety shoes.