Monday, 30 November 2009

Travel Light

I was just flicking through my iTunes when a song cane on that I couldn't help but raise a smile to. 'Shore to Shore' by Johnny Flynn is truly lovey. I went to see him at Brudenell Social Club on his solo tour not so long ago, and was reminded of his whimsical lyrics and folk rhythm. In that sentence, I may not have sold it to many of you readers of this post out there, but really, if you ever get the opportunity to see him live, do it.

This video of him and Laura Marling singing 'Travel Light' originally by Jeffery Lewis and Diane Cluck is possibly one of my favorite things on YouTube right now.

Travelling light... Thinking about it, that's something I really need to practice the art of.

And, by the way, he's a really nice guy.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Jono Lewarne

Jono Lewarne. Terrific. His web page is full of enticing projects that warm my heart. Ok, so this example is slightly more serious, but this personal summary of his work really makes you realise, he's there to make the world a slightly better place:

'After all the recent doom and gloom in the press about the credit crunch and our impending financial doom I decided to put my own message out there. I screen printed 'Everything will be ok in the end' onto pages from the Financial Times and posted them up around Bristol city centre on a Sunday night ready for the Monday morning rat-race to see. It wasn't based on sound economic advice but hopefully it brought a smile to a few faces.'

And I have to say, it definitely put a smile on my face.

Some of his other work includes 'The Encyclopedia of Pie', obviously a niche market involved in the making of that one.
And one of my other faves, 'Dictionary' which is a response to the book Iona by Fiona MacLeod. After he first read it he loved all the language and words he had newly discovered within it's page that he wanted to create his own book in respect to it. And the best part is, he placed a copy in the library next to 'Iona' so other future readers could enjoy his work.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Colin McDowell

Yesterday I stepped out of the best lecture I have had whilst being at university, with eyes newly opened to the world of fashion.

Colin McDowell, fashion historian and fashion journalist for the Times newspaper, is the most interesting man I have ever heard talk about fashion. OK, so I may not be the next John Galliano, but by gum has his lecture given me the burning to become an influential textile designer at the forefront of design. He was one of those people, that when they talk, you can't help but be drawn in by their words. Every sentence hooks you further. It helped that he was hilarious as well.

He told us that everything in fashion has been presaged and that womenswear in 20th Century fashion can be divided into three categories; long skirts ('Laura Ashley types'), knee length skirts and mini skirts. He shared that his favourite decade by far was the 1950s because this was the last decade of elegance, the last decade of real couture. Now what we class as 'couture' garments are really just clothes made of slightly more expensive fabrics sold for incredibly high prices.

The 1950s saw the rise of the stylist and the demise of the editor in fashion magazines, which had a massive impact on the way fashion has evolved. Now clothes and fashion are geared entirely for young women, meaning that elder ladies simply can't keep up, inevitably narrowing fashion. The young and untrained influence of the young in fashion means that there is no one to lead and steer fashion, under 23s at the forefront of fashion don't understand the culture and design that empowers fashion. Fashion clothes the attitudes, assumptions and aspirations of society. He continued that fashion is currently at an all time low because he artists in the design industry don't have anything to say, instead favouring fame and money in front of strong and powerful fashion statements. Currently we are all happy to go with the gentle ebb and flow of fashion but we need a sense of dis contempt as all creativity starts with dis contempt, complacency is the death of creativity. That's why he thinks that at the end of this recession fashion will blossom again and a new amazing designer will enter the world of fashion, after all, good ultimately rises out of the ashes of something bad.

An example foo this would be London in the 'Thatcher years'. Maggie Thatcher stirred class war and hate for those who don't work. This spiralled into what was seen to be popular turned back on itself to become unpopular. Anything that appeals to everything has no real appeal at all.

Worst of all, the current British Fashion Council is the only FC that is run by people who invest in the high street. Every other FC in existence is run by their countries best fashion designers, this is why people in the UK are so dependant on the highstreet for fashion. Shops like Topshop are bad for fashion as the designers are just barrens of fashion, stealing ideas form the catwalks and recreating them cheaply to sell to mass markets, so everybody ends up looking the same and fashion goes round in circles. Why else are vintage clothes so popular? Because people are fed up to looking the same as everybody else. Fashion and merchandising is a bad combination. The British fashion industry is currently only about making money, there is no real desire to make something amazing.

McDowell said that there are only three key designers of the 20th Century; John Galliano, Miuccia Prada and Marc Jacobs. Galliano is the only man who can really still create couture garments, and he can do this because he is trained properly and continually looks back to the archive of Christian Doir and finds something new to say time after time.

He also went on to explain why menswear is so behind womenswear in the fashion stakes. Men are terrified of their sexuality. Men aren't willing to challenge what fashion really is an instead are happy to go along with fit and cut, not style and design.
He left us with the advice 'never get involved in a relationship with any man that is connected with rugby, you will continually argue about the colour of a pair of socks and they will never grow up!'


Monday, 23 November 2009

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Mushy Mush

I literally LOVE mushrooms.

I don't really know what it is I love so much about them.
The taste. The texture. The smell.
Everything everybody else hates about them.
I have this weird thing where I have to eat them raw by taking out the stalk then peeling the skin from the underneath to the top then snapping it in half and eating each segment seperately. It's kind of an obsession. There is no other way this task can be done...

I found this book in my uni library and it has literally provided me with reading entertainment for weeks on end.
I have actually found a way to encorporate this love into my work this semester as I have been taking hand casts in mod rock inspired by the work of Egon Schiele as well as other artists who look at hands a a key theme, then I turn these casts into mushrooms with tea and coffee staining and painting on latex to create a natural and weathered look and adding a stalk for support.

Knitting and Stitching Show

Andrea Cryer Kath
Inspired by a picture found by Cryer of the grandmother at 18 and then another photograph of when she was 88, representing time and memory.
Canvas, pencil, linen, cotton, reused threads, threads unpicked from subject's clothing, hair, hand embroidery.

Gintare Pilypaite Grandmother
Inspired by the artist's memories of her grandmother.
Wool, cotton, stitching, photography

Kyoko Nagasawa Search for Pouring Down
Cotton and nylon threads, polythene bags, machine embroidery on heat pressed and hand-knitted polythene bag base

Susanne Gregg Vase
Soluble fabric, monofilament thread, machine stitching

So today, for the third year running I went to the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate and as ever, it didn't fail to inspire and excite me. I thought that in comparison to other years, this years show focused much more on the stitching element of textiles particularly on linear stitch rather that, for example Jan Beaney and Jean Littlejohn's stitch work that builds up layers to create an image.

I seemed to be much more drawn to this type of linear stitch, that creates a simple line almost like a sketch. I was wowed by the talent shown and the ease of which the artists seemed to be able to create such a natural line on a machine.

Sarah Burgess Pulling Off, Slipping On
Inspired by vintage costume books instructing women on the correct way to put on and take off their gloves in order not to damage them. Represents life and experience through the discarded item and the continual wearing of the glove.
Cotton organdie, machine and hand stitching, shadow work, applique

Helen Keller

Ilaria Margutti and Rosalba Pepi Mend of Me
Organza, burlap, silk thread, embroidery

Rosie James Durer Stitching
Inspired by a sketch by Albrecht Durer.
Silk organza, machine stitching

Rozanne Hawksley Self Portraits, Pale Rider, In Whose Name?
Self portrait studies of the artists drawn over five years .
Work based on and using gloves.

I also found a lot of inspiration for my current project from hand imagery in all different forms through out the show. Again he strength of the shows stitch artists glared through with several artists creating simple linear pieces that were really effective in showing the detailing of the skin on the hand. But I was particularly interested in Rozanne Hawksley's work in which she uses gloves. I have decided that I now intend on using latex gloves in my work to create interesting shapes and features in my knit work, at the end of my knit project I shall put up some images of what my outcomes were and more details of the intentions of the project.

There were also some quirky things at the show that I wanted to include...

Itie Langeland Bascous
Inspired by irregular appearances, in this case by people with an abundance of hair.

Sarah Brown 84 Hours
Inspired by the bookbinder William Wood who died in prison in 1788 after being sentenced for two years for pressurising his master to reduce the working week from 84 hours to 83 hours. The book was bound from 6am to 8pm for six days, recreating the working week of Wood himself.

I also met a Canadian weaver, Susan Jarmain. Here is some of her beautiful work she selected for the show...

Jarmain uses a reactant dye on pure silk to colour the warp with a her design before she weaves in the weft to create the final effect. This can create a whole array of effects depending on the techniques she chooses to weave in, with some truly magical results.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Where the Wid Things Are

Seriously can't wait to see this film.
The soundtrack (composed by none other than Karen O), cinematography and content all looks amazing.
Perfectly illustrating the curiousity of a child's mind.
I always thought 'curiosity killed the cat' was a stupid saying, lets hope Spike Jonze thinks this too.

Roll on December 11th.

If you can't wait till then I've found Spike Jonze's blog which discusses all his influences for the film in an art and design sense. Amazing....

Student fashion on real people

Designs by Gemma Clements, Rebecca Cotterall, Sirah Nawez, Gemma McClusky and Amy Olley.

I saw this article in Vice magazine and couldn't help but laugh at its truthful irony. So many times the question has been asked: 'How does fashion we see on the catwalk and in magazines relate to what real people wear everyday?' and I suppose this article makes us realise that, to be brutally honest, it doesn't. When would you ever normally see Sue Nicholls, AKA Audrey Roberts walking round the set of Corra in a space age suit?

Some people may argue that this is no joke, but instead a realisation that celebrity culture is leaking into the veins of what it is to dress fashionably, after Lady Gaga and Little Boots. So is this a projection of Primark in 2012? Maybe we will just have to wait and see...

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Stanley & Audrey Burton Art Gallery

Had a look round the uni art gallery for the first time today and was mildly surprised at its content and quality. The contemporary room was a particular highlight. This piece by Robert Currie called '1 Hour, 27 Minutes and 13 Seconds' is made from video tape held vertically across a canvas. Currie's fascination with line is evident in this piece as it is in some of his more recent work where he looks at the chaos theory in a unique sence of sculpture.

'913m of monofilament and black acrylic'
The layering of monofilament covered in acrylic creates an almost holographic illusion of an image which creates a strange 3D moment in time.


Was just having a browse around ICONs website and stumbled across this design by Sang Jin Lee from Korea . Its so enchanting and such a lovely idea. Not only will you have an aesthetically pleasing lighting device in the room of your choice, but also it will provide the lighting for the actual activity itself! Such a simple idea, but so effective.

Oh how I miss reading for leisure at uni.[]=379

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Julian Casablancas etc: My Drive Thru

Julian Casablancas. Swoon.

I've literally just bought tickets to see him on his solo tour in Leeds in December. YESSS. This music video of 'My Drive Thru' where he teamed up with N.E.R.D's Pharell Williams and Santagold is amazing. It's like being stuck in an Escher painting with all the direction change, spiraling and underlying geometrical structures (oh how Professor Hann would be proud!). The grey tones work really effectively in giving the impression of cut out illustrations, almost in a paper chain men fashion, and the constant movement creating a film reel like motion that mimicks the tempo of the song. So what if it may not be my normal music taste, but its new and refereshing. A niche in my iTunes.

I recommend that EVERYONE has a listen to his new solo album 'Phrazes for the Young'. Post Strokes genius.

Casablancas can just carry on as he is and I will be happy.

Taxing Crochetdermy


Shauna Richardson creates pieces of work that resemble taxidermy, a traditional craft seen in many quintessential British locations, but with a twist. When you look closer, you realise that the entire of the so-called animal is actually created from crochet and knit. The technical qualities are stunning and the ironic effect and message given by her work is magical.

Richardson has also been commissioned to produce two 30ft lions for the 2012 Olpmics in London. I'mlooking forward to seeing that one!!!

Bradford Textile Conference

Today I descended upon Bradford in order to attend the Bradford Textile Competition Conference and hear about what is expected of us in our 2010 entries.

It was really interesting to hear Janet Holbrook from Peclers Paris talk about trend and colour predictions for SS2011. The main jist of the talk focused upon colours that inspired hope and a positive approach to balance out the negative aspects of the economic down turn.

Holbrook categorised SS2011 colours into four main areas:

1. Nature
Inspired by pollen, bees, natural ecosystems and natural grace, looking back to the work of the pre-raphaelites with sheen finishes and rippling effects.
The theme also looked into travelling and the garden of delights with colour including fresh greens pinks and oranges with lots of digital prins and the bringing together of art and textiles into one expression with the use of 3D forms and crepe finishes.

2. Meandering
This theme is said to have come about due to people wanting to slow down and reflect on the more important aspects of life, thus rejecting the busy technology fueled life that we have all got so used to in recent years. The idea of having a dream and thinking and reflecting on where you could go and what you could do with your life.
Chic, relaxed and simple designs are to be created concerning drifting intellect and rare essentials. Velvets and Devore is said to be sticking around creating a 'shabby chic' feel and universal stripes, particularly in a vertical direction will be making a comeback with inspiration from boats and tarpaulins, crochet too will be making a reappearence to the markets with naturally dyed, sourced or even recycled yarns and materials. The aim is creating lo-tech, attractive but functional designs.
Trends include wrapping, draping and folding with gauze fabrics in greys and blues with flashes of terracotta colours, these will be very popular in wovens in dusty, smoky and dense settings.

3. Solaris
Inspired by music, video and art 'Solaris' will set out to create magical energy with an other worldly quality and a fascination into the unknown.
With a surge of people in this generation travelling to South America, Peru and the like tribal symbols will make an appearance in fashion and interiors. Surges in creativity are what will get us through the recession and man made fabrics seem to be most likely to come out on top.
Colours will include bunrt oranges and reds accented with balck and white and a new vivid blue. Statement colours will be seperated by vegetal texture represented by jaquard and interlacing techniques. Metals, embossing and polishing will also become popular with copper taking over last seasnons gold.

4. Cheerful
Upbeat simplicity and everyday charm will be represented in this theme with an overall whimsical feel. Trend will return to simple, classic design roots.
Poetic invention and a 'Do-It-Yourself' approach will often encompass recycled and fanciful objects with inspiration coming from artists such as Kandinsky.
French etiquette will appear again with the recent popularity of Chanel with reds, whites and blues with other basal tones. Parallel to this preppy American themes will shine through, often with a subtle flash of colour that could be hidden inside the garment in its lining. CMKY colours will be used in professional graphics and sports wear with inspiration from Jil Sander.

Douggy G

After my previous post concerning Douglas Gordon's 'Three Inches Black' work, I accidentally found myself looking back into his previous work and renewed my love for his video art. In this '24 Hour Pyscho' piece Douglas has taken Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' cult movie from 1960 and slowed the entire footage down so viewing the renewed version of the film would take 24 hours.

The slowed version allows the viewer to really appreciate the boundry breaking cinematography of Hitchcock put together by storyboard maker and graphic designer Saul Bass, especially in the shower scene (featured above), which arguably is one of the most recognisable scenes in movie history, which contains over 50 cuts and 77 angles in what was orginally a 3 minute scene.

When you think about the piece in detail, you realise that no one could realistically sit and watch 24 hours worth of film footage, but the idea that people could think about the piece after they had left the exhibition, and wonder at what stage the film would have reached at a different points in time fascinates me. The idea of fixing your audience so that your work effects them even after they have experienced it for a short while. I also am intrigued by the length of the edited film, and that exactly the same shots will be played at exactly the same time day after day until the video is paused or stopped, thus creating a repition over a long period of time and a continual loop of interest, in which you could see the whole film if you went to it's installation over several days at different consectutive times, despite the fact the viewer would have no control over the footage itself.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Three Inches Black

With the arrival of the iPhone into a world of technology obsessed androids at the forfront of development there has come a surge of weird and wonderful accessories off the back of its popularity. But one of the strangest I have seen is this 'iPhone finger' which I accidentally stumbled upon whilst browsing the internet. Of course, with the purchase of a brand new expensive iPhone the last thing you would want would be your own finger prints obstructing the screen... so why not invest in this stunning hand wear?!...

I kid you not...
Strangely enough it reminded me of the an artist I have recently been looking at to insipre me for my current knit project. Douglas Gordon's 1997 'Three Inches Black' is a series of 11 photographs taken of a black tattoo by Gordon over the entire of a man's index finger. The inspiration for this work comes from a story Gordon remembers being told as a child concerning the amount of stabbings that took place in Glasgow where he grew up in the 1970s. At the time there was a police crackdown on any potential weapon that was carried. The three inches represents the boundry between life and death.

In an accompnanying text Gordon states that three inches is the length needed to penetrate the heart through the chest cavity.