Amelia’s Magazine | Art Exhibition: A Bright and Guilty Place

What interested you about Womenswear and subsequently the Womenswear MA at Central Saint Martins?

A desire to design clothing for myself I guess is what first drew me to Womenswear. I also love the drama and the show of Womenswear that you don’t necessarily get with Menswear. I studied the BA Womenswear at CSM and subsequently went on to do this at MA.

What Projects are currently in the pipeline?

I have just finished working on and promoting my Weekday collection and am now planning a move to New York, ask where I have an exciting new project to work on.

I’ve seen online you’re currently working with Weekday… the collection looks fantastic, information pills how’s that collaboration going?

The collaboration has actually finished now and the designs (mostly t-shirts) are available to buy in the Weekday stores which are located in Sweden, health Germany and Denmark. The collaboration was a wonderful project for me to work on and I am so pleased that my designs are now available to a wider audience.

What is your aesthetic and how did it develop?

I guess that you could say its minimalist/purist with a fun twist. An element of fun has always been essential in my design work, I don’t think that fashion should take itself too seriously! The minimalist/purist element is something that I worked on throughout the MA, as I already said I wanted my collection to be fun but I also wanted it to be taken seriously and be wearable and the minimal aesthetic seemed to offer up the perfect balance.

What is the Colin Barnes Illustration Award (congratulations!) and how do you become eligible?

The Colin Barnes Illustration Award is something that I was awarded whilst studying on the BA. It is an award that is given to St Martin’s students studying on the BA Fashion design course for their illustration. I was so surprised to receive it as I had always struggled with illustration until Howard Tangye made me realise that the way I draw doesn’t have to be the same way that everyone else draws! I owe him a lot for that!

What role does illustration play in your design process?

It played a huge role in my MA collection as we worked tirelessly to make sure that the actual clothes were as close to my original drawings as possible, the weird proportions, placement of the print and particularly the width and angle of the shoulder. I am happy to say that what went down the catwalk was exactly the same as my drawings!

You’ve mentioned in other interviews an interest in basic shapes – do these motifs often appear in your illustrations?

It does subconsciously I think, my drawings are often quite angular and square like! And going back to what I said about my aesthetic I am a big fan of pure, minimalist and clean things and what is more pure that a basic circle, square or triangle.

Do you draw outside of fashion design?

Not really as all my ladies (and they are always ladies) of course have to have great outfits on so I end up designing without even realising it. I don’t really have much time to do it anymore either which is a shame.

Who would you say informs your work, do you have a customer in mind during the design process?

I never have a specific customer. I collect images and build up a mood in that way. I am influenced by all sorts of things from all different sources. I see it as a bit like putting a jigsaw puzzle together.

Could you describe your design process?

Backwards and Forwards, up and down, moments of genius and moments of disaster. Each collection is different and so forms its own process. I don’t have any hard and fast rules.

How did your MA collection develop – from where did you inspiration come from?

I am a bit of a collector, especially when it comes to images and so the collection draws inspiration from many different reference points. The face, eyelashes etc. came from the work of François and Jean Robert, the hands were from some drawings that I found by Saul Steinberg and the shapes were from some of Jean Paul Goude’s work with Grace Jones particularly her ‘Slave To The Rhythm’ video. As I already mentioned, once I had the designs they weren’t changed at all and the development was all in making sure the clothes were just like the drawings.

Do you ever use re-cycled or up-cycled fabric in your designs?

I am ashamed to say that I didn’t in my MA, however I did explore using existing items of clothing etc a lot in my BA and it is definitely something that I would like to re visit in the future.

What fabrics do you enjoy working with?

I love wool jersey; in fact my whole collection was made out of it. I really like jersey as a whole, mainly because it allows you to do things without darts and seams, which allows the design to appear even more minimalist and clean.

Who are Francois and Jean Robert and what is the book Reggi – Secolo?

Francois and Jean Robert are Graphic designers/photographers who did the most fantastic book called Face to Face in which they photographed inanimate objects that appear to have or make different faces. It really is worth a look, for the concept but also for the clean beautiful look of the book itself.

As for Reggi-Secolo, this is a little crazy book of totally insane and genius bra’s, it really is quite amazing.

Who are your favourite designers and why?

I have long been a Martin Margiela fan; he was one of the first designers that really sparked my interest in fashion. I also love Yves Saint Laurent when Yves Saint Laurent was at the helm and Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel and of course Moschino when Franco Moschino was there. I also love Hermes for the fantastic quality and unwavering levels of good taste!

What do you think of twitter and the ever developing blogging network as a method of self promotion? Do you use either medium?

I think that Twitter and blogging are great if you know how to make the most of them and do them well, unfortunately I don’t and so I will leave it to the experts.

Could you describe your interest in ‘bad taste’ in our current cycle of fast fashion, and endless borrowing from the past or more accurately returning to what were considered ‘fashion mistakes’ and re-inventing them do you think what was consider bad taste is now considered ‘good’ taste. Where is the line for you?

Good and bad taste for me is just a fascinating thing to play with. It is so easy to get it wrong and so hard to get it right and it can be the minutest detail that makes all the difference. I really couldn’t say where my line is, I think it varies depending on the object/image/garment etc that you are considering.

What was your experience of work experience, what do you recommend about the experience and what did you take away from it?

Work experience for me was essential and it was also the time that I really developed into a designer. It makes it all more real, you realise that these things that you are designing do actually end up being worn! I would fully recommend it to anyone thinking about doing it.

Will you be showing at London Fashion Week this Autumn?

I am afraid not, as much as I would love to I feel that I still need to get a bit more experience before I have my own label and so I am going to work in New York for a while starting in June.

Illustration by Anka Dabrowska

Maps represent Humanities desire to reduce the world into manageable, troche understandable and most importantly dividable segments. From documenting the ‘progress’ of colonisation to identifying political and cultural divisions, remedy maps can be used to simplify human life into pinpointable ideologies. What are in reality, advice line drawings, maps have encouraged nationalism and a sense of entitlement to place, that has only served to drive apart different faiths and cultures.

Hope and Glory by Derek Ogbourne

Jorge Luis Borges tackled Humanities love for ordered knowledge -through his pariodical encyclopedia- using self devised taxonomical systems; an idea transforming Foucault’s idea of the relationship between knowledge and power used Borges to introduce The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. Writers are not the only critics of unquestionable authority, artists have long been needles in the side of those that weld power, using multiple practices to challenge authority, its relationship to history and those who have been left out.

Payne Shurvell space used to be an old light factory…

Payne Shurvell’s inaugural exhibition “A Bright and Guilty Place” introduces thirteen artists whose work tackles the action of mapping and ideas of place related to social geography. The work displayed is an indication of each artist’s practice. The show’s success lies in the curators choice of artwork that genuinely reflects the theme, rather than selecting artists and forcing them to fit, as can all too often happen in group shows.

The artists touch upon ideas of psychogeography, and the aforementioned human drive to find a place to lay claim too; whether that be a house or an entire country there is a deep attachment to the idea of owning land. As both religion and art have discovered questions on existence are perennial and continually open to interpretation. Lucy Wood demonstrates the paths of Mexicans who have attempted to cross the border and in worse cases died trying. document the trails of immigration, notably failed attempts or the endless drift of those people designated as unwanted.

Maps can also document the places the headquarters of finance choose to inhabit, and subsequently be subverted by Dan Hays replicating page 62 from London’s A-Z visualising instead, the strangulating hold commerce has over London’s centre through it’s Canary Wharf headquarters.

Frank Selby tackles the reoccurring problem of a world submerged within miscommunication, where the break down in an ability to convey ideas all too often ends in violence in his drawings. Payne Shurvell showcases “Stop the Next Next War War” from this series, a reflection on the variety of ways there is to interpret a single moment depending on individual and collective previous experiences.

Andrew Curtis plays with ideas that British suburbia was created through our colonialist past in his eary prints of houses dominated by the Monkey Puzzle Tree. An image especially poignant in the wake of the 2008 financial and housing bubble crash. For a short time the papers documented the lives of people who now found themselves ‘lost’ without a home call their own.

Ian Whittlesea continues to explore the connection between place and personality print of the studios Jasper Johns inhabited during his time in New York – What makes a studio a studio? Is the studio made by the standing of the artist who inhabits that space?

Anka Dabrowska documents Polish shop fronts through exquisite 3D models and her wonderful drawings. They are memorials to individual and collective memory, the artist’s memory vs everyone else’s – the work transports the viewer into her idea of post war Poland. The mixture of Capitalist growth removing any reminder from the Communist era; the images reflect Eastern Europe Aesthetics nestling amongst the identical brands the ‘West’ is so fond of. These careful constructs forcefully encourage the viewer to reconsider their idea of Poland’s Social and Physical Geography.

Adian McNeill’s photographs opaquely explore a subject, that all too often stumped Britain’s political leaders throughout the general election as they stumbled towards the populist vote; immigration. McNeil’s images document the arrival of non native plants impact upon the ecosystem of their new destination, these stark black and white images make apparent how immigration is all too often portrayed as an underlying threat in the media.

This is a fascinating exhibition documenting the position of the artist in tackling ideas of history and our general knowledge of world events. In the endless news reel of the 24hr cycle it is a relief to stand within the confines of a gallery and contemplate the ways in which we view the world. Amelia’s Magazine throughly recommends a visit to Hewitt Street before July 24th.

Categories ,Aidan McNeill, ,Andrew Curtis, ,Anka Dabrowska, ,Dan Hays, ,Derek Ogbourne, ,Dermot O’Brien, ,East London, ,Frank Selby, ,Ian Whittlesea, ,Jeni Snell, ,LEO, ,Luch Wood, ,Mary Yacoob, ,Payne Shurvell, ,Wrik Mead

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