Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Design Detail - Quilts 1700-2010

Here is my latest Design Detail Column for The Hub Magazine...
Design Detail - Quilts 1700-2010

This month’s Design Detail is ‘Quilts 1700-2010′ , currently showing at the V&A. I visited the exhibition knowing I had something to be excited about, as I am a lover of all things crafty, and love to use quilting, patchwork and embroidery in my work. However I couldn’t prepare myself for being quite so blown away. Yet again the V&As research team have failed to disappoint.
Through the ‘excavation’ of various quilts from as early as 1700 they have discovered little gems of information. One quilt, a ‘Coverlet with Aesop’s Fable’ (made in England between 1700-20 with additions and repairs from 1780-1830), recorded reading habits and used imagery from stories. When investigated, paper templates made from a newspaper from 1705 were found within the quilt’s layers.
The exhibit, curated by Sue Pritchard, was divided into sections through the themes of, ‘The Domestic Landscape’, ‘Private Thoughts and Political Debates’, ‘Virtue and Virtuosity’, ‘Making a Living’ and ‘Meeting the Past’. These themes effectively blended the old, with the new and linked them conceptually.
The ‘Alphabet of Love and Courtship’ from 1875-85, (by an unknown artist) was a humorous and quirky piece illustrating the stages of a relationship through the letters of the alphabet. Beginning with A for Admiration, B for Beauty and C for Cupid and later Q for Quakings and R for Refusal.
More contemporary areas of the exhibit included a film by Nicola Naismith ‘Between Counting’, 2009. The film shows the journey of the needle from mass production to the solitude of the stitchers hand. One thousand ‘between’ needles (designed for hand stitching) became one. The piece is part of a project called ‘en-mass’ which explores “globalisation, trade and cross cultural skills” and the “relationships between mass production and hand dexterities.”
Diana Harrison’s ‘Box 1 and 2’, 2010 takes quilt construction to an alternative place recreating a corrugated card effect.
“The final construction of this ‘quilt’ appears unstable, seams left open, flaps falling and curving suggesting fragility. The time taken to make a large textile piece inevitably becomes connected to personal life events at the time of making. The time-consuming and repetitive stitching of this work acted as a therapeutic distraction to otherwise destructive events.”
Caren Garfen’s ‘How Many Times Do I have to repeat myself’, 2009 is an illustrative and colourful piece exploring various women’s issues such as domestic roles. The quilt is a collection of screen-printed illustrations of domestic objects such as phones, irons and washing machines with overlaid embroidered commentary. The quilt is stuffed with ‘a bit of fluff’ from tumble dryers collected by a collection of women who are all named in a label sewn on to the quilt.
The ‘Fine Cell Work’, 2010, project included a quilt made by prisoners of Wandsworth Prison, and an accompanying film. This project was a highlight of the exhibition, and speaking to other visitors it was clear this piece was a popular one. Based on a hexagon shape, to match a tiled floor within the prison, the piece records contemporary prison life, exploring “stitching as an act of commemoration and remembrance.” The quilts charm is owed to the “work of many hands” and statements such as “I didn’t do it Guv!! Honest!” ‘Fine Cell Work’ operates in 26 prisons across the UK and interestingly 80% of participants are male. The organisation’s mission is “to rehabilitate prisoners by giving them the opportunity to earn and save money and the chance to reflect on and rebuild their lives through craft and achievement.”

Photograph Credit: Nils Jorgensen / Rex Features
Jennifer Vickers’ project, ‘The Presence of Absence’ 2010 is a patchwork quilt made up of 38,000 blank, white  paper squares measuring 1cm x 1cm2. Each square represents Iraqi civilian deaths since the start of the war on Iraq in 2003. Among the blank paper squares are 100 which bear the faces of British casualties in the same period of time. This dramatic piece hammers home a powerful political statement, a statement that is made so effectively through the medium of patchwork.
Another piece that succeeds in making a political statement is Grayson Perry’s ‘Right to Life’, 1998, commenting on American abortion debates. Embroidered illustrations of fetuses in a repetitive print formation celebrate the quilt as traditionally decorative through politically and emotionally charged imagery.
Tracey Emin’s ‘To Meet My Past’, 2002 concludes the exhibition with a beautifully crafted installation of a bed draped with textiles telling a story. Emin’s traditional appliqu├ęd and embroidered execution of illustrations drew a crowd of people all trying to read the text.
“Making quilts isn’t just a graphic process, wrapped up with the production of sewing. It involves a lot of thought and love. Just in the time involved in the process means many things are discussed and considered concerning life.”
The V&A succeeded in offering an exhibition exploring traditional craft practice within a contemporary realm, and commenting on contemporary issues.
Quilts is showing from March 20th until July 4th 2010.
Details of all events, seminars and courses can be found on the V&A website. The V&A are also boasting a Quilt of Quilts page, which allows members of the public to upload images of their own quilts. There is also an Amy Butler quilt pattern available to download.
Author: Ester Kneen

All photography courtesy of the V&A Museum.

article can be found at: http://thehub.c-hab.com/2010/05/design-detail-quilts-1700-2010/

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Topshop Make-Up

Topshop's new Make-Up range launched recently with huge success, so I went to the flagship store to investigate...

The graphics and packaging had a quirky yet sophisticated simplicity that I loved.
I'm ALWAYS sold on packaging! I came away with a nail polish in the 'gone fishing' shade, (which is the closest match to Chanel's Jade no. 407 I've seen, congratulations Topshop!) and a lip polish in 'Coral'.

The nail polish colour is fab, as it's rare to see a jade green shade done well. I wasn't however overly impressed with the strength of the polish, it chipped easily and sadly is one you have to carry in your handbag for emergency top-ups. With a cost of £5 I wasn't expecting miracles, however being a fan of Barry M nail polishes (especially at £2.95) I didn't notice any better quality coverage.

The lip polish is a nice little handbag item, with a tiny, but very handy mirror. The coral shade is lovely, and it's priced fairly at £6. The polish works more as a tinted gloss than a lipstick and its texture means you're never going to get a strong shade.

So all in all a couple of good little products, however some improvements could be made. Take note Topshop!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Quilts 1700-2010 at the V&A

Visited the 'Quilts 1700-2010' at the V&A recently. It was AMAZING!
I'm reviewing it for my 'Design Detail' Column for The Hub magazine, so keep a look out!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Wrangler Menswear - Latest Website

I just came across Wrangler's latest website, it's next level user interactivity!
I love it! It gave me a pang of excitement that few websites have ever given me.
The particularly exciting bit for me is in the BlueBell brand section.
Not only does it give you an insight into the possibilities of website design (I believe all web based media should pull the user in through involvement and interactivity) but you get to tug on the clothing and even undress a lovely looking man!

Check it out here.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Charlotte Mann

Illustrator Charlotte Mann has been widely talked about over the last year, I never got round to being one of those to mention her, so maybe this is a little overdue but she deserves a mention!

What better way to decorate your home than a made-to-measure or rather measured out and drawn on illustrated wall? These fun illustrations quite literally, add another dimension to a space. They're like a place you want to visit but can't. The intricate illustration makes you want to investigate each little line.

The 'Peter Jensen Resort' project was a set created for a photoshoot.

"The collection was inspired by Diane Arbus. Every aspect of the room I drew is taken from a Diane Arbus photograph, except the wallpaper, which is pure Peter Jensen, and every single bunny drawn freehand."

Her website has a section called 'Other Drawings' where I found some treasures, I love this fashion illustrations.


Monday, 10 May 2010

Joetta Maue

This week I discovered the work of textiles artist Joetta Maue. "An artist who loves fiber, lace, embroidery, stillness, sunshine and pickles..." apparently.

Her 'Desire to be' embroidery piece caught my eye on Creature Comforts, a favourite blog of mine.

Check out her blog for more beautiful embroidery works.

Design Detail - Alternative Fashion Week

I now have a monthly column, 'Design Detail' for The Hub Magazine.
Check it out!
Here's the first installment....

This year’s Alternative Fashion Week saw over 70 new designers present their work to an estimated audience of 10,000 visitors keen to see emerging talent. With 14 or more catwalk shows each day the event had a jam-packed schedule and attracted visitors from all over the world. Hosted by Alternative Arts – a publicly funded arts organisation – they aim to ‘present fashion as an exciting and original art form’. Alternative Arts strive to raise environmental awareness and actively support recycling and ethical sourcing in fashion. “We invest in innovation and ideas. This is fashion on the edge, risky, experimental, fashion for the future.”
Alternative Fashion Week acts as a middle ground between graduate fashion shows and the mainstream fashion industry, and helped launch Gareth Pugh’s career, when he was invited byFashion East to show at London Fashion Week in 2005. The event is free to all participants and visitors alike and for this reason is hugely competitive as only 70 designers are chosen from over 500 applicants.
Alternative Fashion Week is also a great opportunity for those wanting to break into the modeling industry. All models are unpaid volunteers and many attend choreographer Rosie Whitney-Fish’s six-week modeling course prior to the event. Model scouts visit the event hoping to discover new talent.
Spitalfields Trader’s Market houses the event involving not just catwalk shows but also a fashion stalls exhibiting clothes, textiles and accessories. The atmosphere that filled the market was invigorating. The high-energy, quick-paced shows attracted flocks of people. ‘The Really Tight Corsettes’, a contemporary jazz band, accompanied each of the catwalk shows and in no small part contributed to the lively atmosphere. The excitement and energy could also be felt backstage where models were preparing and designers were making last minute adjustments.
Laura Fox’s ‘Rural Renaissance’ show was a highlight. The ‘British Heritage, Harris Tweed and Oilskin’ inspired collection presented oilskin dresses, tapered trousers, bold prints in yellows and greens and pheasant feather fascinators. Resulting in a ‘Country Life’ meets ‘Good Housekeeping’ feel with a contemporary and wearable outcome.
Kim Soeghee’s show ‘Another 7th Day’ played upto the current biker trend with emo and gothic styling, architectural tailoring and oversized, open knits. The well-selected group of moody-faced models with attitude perfectly complimented the collection. It was ‘guyliner’ galore!
Sarina Hosking’s fairytale inspired collection ‘Sarina Poppy’ was introduced as “Beauty and the Beast; where Red Riding Hood is in love with the Beast”. The concept was weakened by a little fairytale confusion, but dramatic corsetry and creative posing gave the collection a magical feel. The fabric choices caused a little more confusion with polka dots placed with velvets and lace, however this eclecticism was also the collection’s strength.
Additionally Laura Panter’s ‘A Collection that cries Adolescent with Womanly Curves’ showed interesting structural silhouettes with beautiful pastel shades and sexy feminine styling. Sophie Biddulph’s work for Chelsea College of Art and Design’s Modern Folk’ collection was a beautifully styled sophisticated outcome with a stunning charcoal grey animal skin effect print in a delicate fabric.
The event was an insight into work that may soon be seen on the catwalks of London, New York, Paris and Milan fashion weeks. The atmosphere was inspiring and I’ll definitely be visiting again next year! Visit the Alternative Arts website for more information.
Author:  Ester Kneen
Images courtesy of Natalia Kneen. From top to bottom: Sarina Hosking, Laura Fox, Kim Soeghee, Sarina Hosking, Laura Panter and Sophie Biddulph.

Sunday, 9 May 2010