elcome to the first issue of conTEXT, a student-led journal examining critical questions in art and design. The journal developed from the strength of students’ reflections to key concepts, including identity, gender, sustainability, collaboration, globalisation and postcolonialism. Working closely with Fashion/ Textiles and Graphics students, we could see the need for a print and digital platform to showcase their visual and textual responses to critical theory. From the beginning, this was a student-led initiative with key design decisions made by the students. The second-year cohort from Fashion/ Textiles and Graphics critically analysed other art and design publications and worked closely with Lee Enever (Art Editor) to develop a striking layout for conTEXT. We are delighted with the final design and will be using this layout for subsequent issues. In the summer of 2017 I discussed the project with Sarah-Jayne Crowson (Scholarship Development Manager) from Hereford College of Arts and the AoC Scholarship Project. Sarah suggested using this project as a way of integrating students as partners in learning (one of the Scholarship Project’s key research areas). To examine how work is submitted and selected for academic journals, we decided to incorporate a peer review session to select the content for the first issue. 6th December 2017 saw conTEXT’s first peer review; this was a great success and we received over 40 submissions! Students were responsible for selecting, suggesting edits and responding to all submissions. With support from other HE courses at Bristol School of Art, conTEXT has developed into an interdisciplinary journal with content submitted from Fine Artists, Art Historians and alumni. Lydia Wooldridge - Lecturer at Bristol School of Art (Co-Course Leader Fashion/Textiles)
The Cover Contemplation - created using digital collages made on various creative apps for the iPad Pro. The image represents reflection and contemplation - key skills demonstrated in all of the submissions for the first issue of conTEXT.
Editorial Editorial Director
Assistant Editor Project Editor
Jill Phillips Magda Nowak Lee Enever
will.ber email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Editor magdalenanowak1992 @ g m a i l . c o m
Belonging to Society
Untitled M a g d a l e n a N o w a k
An Interview with R o n j a T h i e l m a n n
Collage K i r a n P a t e l
VAT: Value Added Textiles
A Conversation with
Sally Coulden & Jane Speedy
Collaboration & the Sneaker Industry
Identity: Self Portrait
Footprints E m i l y G r e e n
50 Concepts L e e E n e v e r
Sketch Book Identity
Stitch K e r r y L e w i s
Identity V i v i e n n e R o s e
Art & Religion J o a o d e C a s t r o
A Lesson in Empathy
Residency B u l i F l a s h
Va l e r i a L a b r u n a
Will Ber tram
Logo The windmill logo was designed to represent Bristol School of Art and the cycle of students who continually progress through it.
Belonging to Society After reading Peter Berger’s ‘Religion and WorldConstruction’ in The Sacred Canopy, I concluded that society is controlled by people. The concept of social acceptability and normality is judged by society. However, people can also be a product of society as they grow and develop in the environment around them. Humankind has the power to change society. As long as there are people there will be society, it’s a continuous structure that progresses alongside our species. Society is a continuous development of how we choose to live and communicate with each other. Humankind does not like change. We, therefore, live in a series of patterns and structures that help us organise or understand our lives and events. We are creatures of habit; each culture has its traditions, which reflect the different backgrounds and experiences of its people. People have a drive to impact society, showing that their life mattered. For some, this might be having children, for others it might be changing society itself, changing the law or making a scientific discovery. Society is guided by strict guidelines to prevent people fromdamaging society. Ultimately, we decide what we change and when we are in control.
‘ S O C I E T Y
S TAT E D
T H AT
S O C I E T Y. ’
Pe te r B e rg e r : T h e S a c re d Ca n o p y
agda developed her passion for Graphic Design through photography, so in this piece she combined both to demonstrate her ever-evolving identity. The images of her family represent those who influenced and continue to influence her, whilst signifying her Polish heritage. The depiction of Bristol Harbourside
symbolises Magdaâ€™s move to Bristol in 2015. This move was a huge adventure for Magda and culminated in her studying Graphic Design at Bristol School of Art. By layering the portrait photos and her illustration of Bristol, Magda demonstrates her dual sense of belonging between Polish and British societies.
Ronja Thielmann (1st year Fashion/Textiles student) in discusssion with Lydia Wooldridge (Fashion/Textiles Lecturer) about her Identity sculpture.
An Interveiw With Ronja Thielmann
Lydia – Hi Ronja, thanks for agreeing to talk to us about your sculptural piece for the first edition of conTEXT. I wondered if you could talk to us about what inspired your design? Ronja – It is about identity. It made me think really hard about identity in the context of myself. This I think was the hardest part. I came up with a few concepts about how society is shaping me and then thought of a process for expressing that. Lydia – Interesting, so what do you feel your artwork represents visually? Ronja – I like the fact that it comes from a twodimensional piece of paper and it transforms into a three-dimensional object, which rotates like the spiral of the double helix, but also acts as a funnel shape. The funnel shape is an important feature for me, as I find society is shaping me a lot. It funnels inside all the things society thinks you should be. At the top there are little phrases or boxes you need to tick or cannot tick - whether you are married, what racial background you are etc. All of these things are meant to define me. In contrast, on the other side (you really need to lift it up) there are a whole lot of adjectives that I use and that people close to me use to describe me, which actually, I think is me – rather than what society defines me as.
Ronja – literally, daily life and people from childhood, who have helped shape me. There are even bits of food in there – it covers everything that features in my life. Lydia – My final question – It’s a three-dimensional object; how do you want an audience to engage with it? Ronja – I want people to touch it. I want people to be curious, to look at it closely and turn it round because it has so many different aspects, which mirror the different aspects of identity. You also need to look at it from the top and from the bottom, to be able to see what the input and output is – what society does and how you actually feel about it. So, I wanted people to be able to use it and touch it, and it doesn’t matter if it gets damaged or destroyed, because it’s ephemeral– it’s not going to be the piece that represents me next year.
Lydia – Fab – it’s a complex piece. So this element of string, which is present in the stitching at the top and then mirrors the fold of the funnel. Does this represent anything in particular? Ronja – Yes, I wanted to incorporate string, because it is literally a thread through my life. I’ve always worked with craft and textiles from a young age, so I wanted to have a thread that you can feel, incorporated into the piece. I like the fact that it changes colour – as your life changes colour on a constant basis as well. I have also deliberately not finished the strings going across the piece and against the grain of the spiral, because I think you are unfinished, identity is very much unfinished – I am unfinished – a work in progress. Lydia – So, it incorporates your face and you’ve used photos to do this. How did you select all of the images? Ronja – eeerr, very random and very fast, without thinking about it, selecting everything that I liked and disliked, because both of those play a part in my identity. Images that are good quality and well composed and others that are just snapshots from my phone. Lydia – Everything that encompasses daily life?
Zdzislaw Beksinski Magdalena Nowak
rakovians were not content with Beksinski’s work in the past. This talented painter’s work wasn’t part of any prominent public collections in Poland. However, this situation changed in October 2016. Paintings, photographs and drawings - totalling 250 of Beksinski’s art pieces from the private collection of Anna and Peter Dmowski (close friends of the artist) found their place in Krakow’s cultural centre. The artist’s work definitely excites extreme emotions and won’t leave anyone untouched. Zdzislaw Beksinski was born in 1929 in Poland. He studied architecture in Krakow, but he didn’t enjoy this. His works are very diverse - paintings, photographs, drawings, graphics, sculptures, sketches and installations; however, a dystopian surrealism is visible across his art and seems to be the main theme. The painter himself called his style “gothic or baroque”. His paintings often depict anxiety, such as torn doll faces, faces erased or obscured by bandages wrapped around the portrait. The main inspiration source was music and his wife, Zofia. Beksinski was a fascinating person with weird phobias and manias. For example, disgust of pregnant women was incidental through all his life and even when Zofia was pregnant he slept in a separate bed. He did not like to travel to different cities, even for his own exhibitions. Despite some odd habits he was known as a pleasant person with a great sense of humor. Some people used to think that Beksinskis’s family was cursed and the late ‘90s was a difficult time for a painter. His beloved wife
died in 1998 and just a year later his son committed suicide. The artist found his son’s body. On 21 February 2005 Beksinski was stabbed to death in his own flat in Warsaw. After his death three biographies were published. A film was released last year called ‘Last Family’ about Beksinski and his relatives, which portray emotions and family life rather than an image of the famous artist. The Gallery of Beksinski is an amazing and very important space for Polish art and culture. The neat and minimal surrounding helps to focus on the master’s work. Paintings and photographs are displayed in a few rooms. High ceilings and really bright spaces introduce the entrance to the show. Thanks to windows at the top of the walls, the room is filled with daylight and a sense of perfect order. A friendly atmosphere invites you inside, to allure you into the exhibition where you lead to a display with black walls. Everything becomes darker and you lose yourself in the sombre nightmare of the artist, discovering other places, showing you more personal work. Nothing distracts the visitor’s attention. You can admire the superior effect of illuminated oil paintings in a very dark room, painted all in black. Images seem to magnetize. This work definitely will move something inside you. You can’t stay indifferent. Beksinski’s artistic language is extremely circumstantial. He immortalises deformed creatures, abandoned places, terrifying shapes and figures on the canvas or photographs. Most of the work is untitled. Beksinski did not want to interpret his work and he was annoyed by other
Images of Beksinski’s paintings from the public collection in Krakow, Poland.
people looking for a deeper meaning in his art. He seems to be very pragmatic. From his letters we learn that as a child he witnessed many murders and cruelty from the Soviet Union’s soldiers to people he knew - friends, family and neighbours. Although he denied that his childhood affected his work, it is hard to overlook this link. He used to say his paintings are the embodiment of his fears and nightmares. Surreal characters play on a canvas. Human skeletons often in sexual poses (he was fascinated by pornography), mystical landscapes showing dark corners of Beksinskis’s mind. If I could use just one word to describe
his work, I would choose “disturbing”. It is hard to decide about better or worse art pieces. They are the totality and taking you into an unknown, obscure world, leading you on a journey into surreal and frightening dreams, but at the end you don’t want to wake up. Beksinski is one of the few Polish artists recognised not only in his homeland, but also in Europe. His works arouse extreme passions. They are fascinating and extraordinary. This very controversial art will leave a mark on your mind and your soul and is definitely worth exploring in this exceptional space in Krakow, Poland.
Collage and scrapbooking have always been used as a way of expressing oneself. This is achieved by creatively and innovatively organising materials including text, shape and colour. It is a way of combining resources and mixed media in a single design to create depth. In this short piece, I will be discussing how the craft of collaging and scrapbooking has impacted art and design in the 20th and 21st century. First off, I will describe how versatile collage is. Secondly I will discuss how Hannah Höch transformed collage into art in regard to Dadaism. Thirdly I will suggest how David Carson translated collage into design using typography. This analysis will enable me to evaluate how collage has impacted art and design in the 20th and 21st century. Collage was commonly associated with the domestic space until the early twentieth century, when artists like Picasso and Braques started engaging with it as an artistic medium. Hannah Höch used collage as a way of expressing how she felt about politics, sexual discrimination and women rights. Observing Höch’s work there is no denying that is formidable and outstanding: her work emphasizes power and depth. Out of all of the members of the Dadaism movement I feel that Höch’s design work is one of the most successful as it relates to the politics of the time. She also gave women a voice at a time when they were not heard, thus challenging the boundaries of inequality. Shaping the future for women displaying that they can be as powerful, if not more powerful than men. This was not easy when competing with artists like Picasso and Hausmann. However, Höch made her mark as an artist and made it into art history books with amazing ability to transform collage into impeccable art displays. She pasted paper collages as a child, before joining the school of Royal Museum of Applied Arts in Berlin.
Collage also features in 20th and 21st century design. David Carson was revolutionary in his use of the medium. His explosive work broke the boundaries of design, as it explored layering, experimented with scale and embraced illegibility. I feel that David Carson is the perfect example of an artist who transformed the craft of collage into design. He understands composition well enough to break up images and distort them into something illegible, but notably eye catching. Collage is all about layering, textures, and understanding negative space. In regard to this statement, David Carson absolutely epitomises the medium.
David Carson In conclusion, collage was transformed from a domestic skill into art and design. I have discussed the versatility of collage as a medium. So, how has collage influenced art and design in 20th and 21st century? Hannah Höch and David Carson employed collage and transformed it into a medium that is commonly used by artists and designers today. Höch opened the door for creativity, giving designers a sense of freedom to express themselves in any way they seem fit. With regard to Carson, you cannot go anywhere nowadays without seeing design made from multimedia collage. Art is a way of expressing yourself. People today look to the past for inspiration and constantly review how we can improve. While respecting the past and looking forward to the future, we now have the freedom to create what we want, when we want, and how we want. Contemporary artists and designers are still interacting with the historic uses of collage and adapting the medium to suit their evolving practice.
Stradling Collection Art History
Ken Stradling Collection - Photo S.Morris The Ken Stradling collection is a very personal collection of Art, Design and Craft objects acquired since the late 1940s. The result is a remarkable collection of 20th and 21st century ceramics, furniture, glass, metal work and artwork. It extends over three floors of our building in Park Row. An integral part of the Ken Stradling Collection is the Design Study Centre on the ground floor. Here you can view a regularly changing selection of work from the Collection and leaf through books from the library.
Art Historians Working collaboratively with the Ken Stradling Collection has given us the opportunity to work closely with the collection. We have learned how to handle objects and explored the process of curation. Our exhibition, Forms of the Human Body, will display 15 objects from the Ken Stradling Collection that all depict the human form. We will examine how the human form has been portrayed through a variety of materials, including wood and glass. In addition, we will consider how these figurative objects connect with other items from the Ken Stradling Collection. The exhibition will be held in Bristol School of Art from the 22nd of February until the 21st of March 2018.
The Ken Stradling exhibition curated by the BA (Hons) Art History students is on from 22nd Feb - 21st Mar 2018.
VAT Jill Phillips
011 VAT: Value Added Textiles
n a survey commissioned in April this year by Sainsbury supermarket in collaboration with Oxfam, a predicted 235m items of unwanted clothing would be discarded in the spring clear out. Of the 2000 people questioned, 49% do not recycle because the clothes are worn out or dirty, 16% said they have no time to get to the charity shops and 6% didnâ€™t know they could recycle clothes. Bristol Textile Recyclers, just one of the companies collecting and recycling unwanted textiles, receives 20 TONS of discarded textile PER DAY! Approximately 50% of discarded textiles are synthetics, such as acrylic, polyester or mixed. These products take roughly 500 years to biodegrade and while they are doing so release toxic chemicals into the ecosystem. These take the form of gases in the air or chemicals in the water system. Each time we wash synthetics, micro fibres are released into the seas. The material that were manufactured at the birth of synthetics will be with us for generations.
It is imperative that we find a solution to halt the harm that is being done to us and our planet by the manufacture of synthetic materials. It is unlikely that we will stop production of new synthetic textiles until we find an alternative - it is too popular a material. It is difficult to re-manufacture synthetic fibre because it is currently impossible to remove all of the oxygen that gets introduced throughout the process. This results in a much weaker, less resilient product. What we can do is find ways of reusing the fabrics we have already manufactured as safely as possible. My practice experiments with weaving strips cut from discarded polyester garments, thereby adding value to textiles.
Cristóbal Balenciaga Jess Thomas
‘Shaping the Course of Fashion’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum
f you were unfamiliar with the work of Cristóbal Balenciaga then it is easy to see his work as modern for the 21st century. You might, therefore, be surprised to learn that some of his earliest work was produced in the 1930s. Anyone interested in fashion should be aware of his work as he drastically altered the fashionable silhouettes of women in the mid-twentieth century. Balenciaga favoured fluid lines that allowed him to alter the way clothing relates to a woman’s body, unique to every client. His pieces are recognised by their sculptural brilliance, skilful manipulation of materials and dramatic use of colour and texture. The V&A’s collection of Balenciaga’s work is centred in the 1950’s and 1960’s. The garments he produced were different to the popular, curvy hourglass shape that Christian Dior endorsed with his ‘New Look’ that seemingly drew inspiration from the past. The garments are grouped into categories throughout the exhibition in terms of styles and development. One of the most interesting pieces of the experience was the light pink ‘tulip’ evening dress that was designed for Hollywood actress Ava Gardner. At a first glance this dress looks simple but the X-ray produced by the museum reveals the intricate internal workings of the garment, even though Balenciaga did not use boning and corsetry in his work. One can even identify the original pins left in the hem by the seamstress, shedding new light on his beautiful craftsmanship and challenging the ideals that have built up around the distinctive designer. The exhibition looks in depth at what made Balenciaga’s designs so unique. The project trys to find those details which you can’t see with the naked eye, through the use of X-rays. The manufacture and craftsmanship of this dress looks loose-fitting from the front, but when you peer inside there is actually quite a bit of structure going on underneath. The X-ray picks up and shows the boned bodice and dress weights. What really appeals about this approach is the fact that the exhibition is a combination between science & art. Balenciaga’s dresses are irreplaceable and x-raying them is a great way of replicating the internal components without damaging the garments. The X-ray project is one of many forensic techniques that the Museum has applied to Balenciaga’s garments to show how complex Balenciaga’s designs can be while appearing simplistic on the outside. This technique has aslo been used for another of his dresses, the silk taffeta evening dress made in 1955, a decade before the pink dress. Christian Dior titled Balenciaga “the master of us all”. He has also been referred to as “the king” and Coco Chanel claimed that he alone was a true couturier. However, outside the fashion collective he has remained almost unknown.
While most people could relate to a Chanel suit or recognise the hourglass shape of Dior’s designs, many people would struggle to put their finger on what a ‘Balenciaga’ actually looks like. But it is understandable to see why he’s so hard to pin down as his pieces can be so different from one another. He has produced a range of work, from a deep pink balloon-hemmed evening dress through to his innovative Bal envelope dress to a classic Baby doll dress from 1968. His versatile ability to produce different styles out of a variety of fabrics makes his work hard to recognise. To someone in the fashion industry he is unique in his own right. He understood how fabrics can make or break a garment, and he manipulated the materials to the shape of the model without compromising on the desired effect, shape or structure. On the first floor of the exhibition, the impact on fashion after Balenciaga’s death in 1972 can be seen. His single-seam coats, ballooning skirts and use of eye-catching colours are only some of the items of inspiration for many other designers. This legacy section of the exhibition can be noted as a universal appreciation of his work and how it is still impacting designs today, decades after his death. We have a habit of interpreting fashion as a never-ending series of repetitions, references and echoes of the past. Balenciaga’s productivity in the fifties and sixties was an exceptional occurrence for a designer creating something completely new each season, year after year. Because of this, his work should be celebrated for many more years to come both for his unique use of fabric manipulation and use, or lack, of surface decoration.
Images from Sally and Jane’s exhibition ‘Emergence’
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Ve n t Spring Journey Mono prints Gloucester road palimpsests
A Conversation With Sally & Jane
A conversation with Sally Coulden, Jane Speedy (Fine Art alumni) and conTEXT about their recent Bristol exhibition: conTEXT: What prompted the title ‘Emergence’? Jane & Sally: Well that’s what we are doing… We are launching our careers as professional artists… This was our first exhibition! conTEXT: So you met at the art school? Sally: Yes, and we live near each other. We met for a coffee, got chatting about what we were both doing… Jane: And decided to have a joint exhibition. Sally: Yes I needed to really get going, have something to focus on… I know from experience that nothing is going to happen in life unless we make it happen... conTEXT: When was the event? Jane: Well it opened on December 15th 2017 and lasted for two days. We were there for the whole time to talk about the work… Sally: The Friday was really busy... and the rest of the time we were there to talk about our art… we realised we’d rather have a shorter exhibition than have a long show in an empty gallery…
Jane: This whole experience of having the exhibition has made me realise what I’m in this for... there are some aspects of being an artist that I don’t like... I’ve loved making the art, expressing ideas visually, making stuff and I love talking about that... I’m very interested in making art, but I’m not very interested in making money, other than to have enough to buy materials to make more art… Sally: I’m intrigued by the art world. I’m not going to be submissive and expect things to just happen, waiting to be asked… that’s why we are putting this on ourselves, doing our own marketing… some people don’t get out and do that… Jane: The thing about this exhibition is we are exposing ourselves to the general public. Historically I’ve given my art work away and sold some but always to someone I’ve known. This show is a real letting go… to unknown quarters. Paintings going to unknown homes… An emergence, even… Sally: This is only the beginning. My ambition is to be working internationally. I’d like eventually to make my living as an international artist… Jane: I just want to make my living as an artist, to sell enough of my work to finance this expensive obsession for making art… Sally: (Laughing) art conquers the world… Jane: Look out world, here come Jane and Sally!
neaker culture has grown phenomenally in the last 30 years, becoming a $55 Billion industry ruled by Nike and Adidas, with a secondary resell market of $1 billion. Sneakers have become more than just a performance garment. These shoes have become fashion icons, investments and personal memories. In this essay, I will first explore the history of the sneaker and its development over the last century. I will pin-point key collaborations and how they pushed the sneaker industry to the next leve. Concluding, I will look at the effect collaboration has had on the industry, culture and our society.
Footwear dates back thousands of years but it was not until the late 1800’s that sneakers were invented and not until 1920’s when these were mass produced (Chrisman-Campbell, 2016). At the turn of the 20th century, athletic shoes were on the up thanks to brands like J.W Fosters & Sons who created the first performance athletic shoe, which featured heavily across a range of sports. Most famously, in the 1924 Olympics, Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell won the 100m and 400m events, wearing their own British made sneakers. At a similar time, schools across the country started to relax their uniform policy, allowing for simple plimsoles to be worn for sports. Yet the real progression of the sneaker industry developed between the 1920’s and 1960’s thanks to collaboration. Basketball has always been a platform for sneakers to be advertised to the public. This was first shown by Converse in 1917, the very first release. Their most iconic model, The Chuck Taylor, was named after the basketball player himself, when he endorsed the brands shoe on the court. Converse’s collaboration made the shoe appeal to the masses, thereby turning it into iconic footwear. It became more than a performance shoe. It became something cool that you could wear around town, instead of traditional hard leather brogues. The Chuck Taylor allowed the wearer to be comfortable and stylish. Thanks to this collaboration between shoe manufacturer and athlete, the shoe has become the best-selling sneaker of all time.
Aware of the power of celebrity endorsements, as demonstrated by Converse, other brands decided to collaborate with prominent sports men and women to create desirable footwear. One shoe that has become an icon in itself is the Adidas Stan Smith. The Adidas Stan Smith was designed and created in 1964, and was heavily endorsed by the Tennis star, Stan Smith. This shoe was cemented in history as a classic, due to its simple silhouette which has outlasted time. Thanks to this collaboration, the shoe could be seen by masses, especially on television, something that could be seen more globally than when the Chuck Taylor was first seen on basketball court. The effect of this made people from all around the world with access to television want to own a pair of these shoes, to be like their favourite athlete. In addition, more recent collaborations of this shoe with fashion designers has cemented its legacy in the fashion world. Raf Simons has done countless variations of the shoe, made using high quality leathers and Raf Simons branding. This type of collaboration has also been hugely influential, as it has elevated the status of a very simple shoe. This shoe now appeals to the public, fashion lovers and high end consumers looking for simplicity and high quality. Sneakers such as the Masion Margiela Future (2014) became a huge success because of their futuristic style and simplistic look. These shoes were also famously worn by celebrities, Usher and Kanye West. These celebrity endorsements demonstrated to people how designer footwear could be worn on a more casual streetwear basis. The effect of this has impacted heavily on the way the sneaker industry designs and creates, often calling for higher quality materials to be used in general release sneakers. It has also shown that designer sneakers have become much more sort after in the sneaker industry because of celebrity endorsement and collaboration, which has even resulted in brands creating their own high quality versions of their standard sneakers. For example, the Jordan brand have created premium quality versions of the Jordan XI, which retailed at £330 in 2016, against the standard model of £165.
However, the most famous collaboration in history started in 1985, between Nike and Michael Jordan, the most famous Basketball player in history, who created the Nike Air Jordan sneaker line. This collaboration was so iconic that the Jordan brand has now produced over 30 sneaker models. Nike’s endorsement of Jordan and its willingness to create a shoe that went beyond function, elevated the sneaker world. Designed by Nike’s most influential shoe designer, Tinker Hatfield, and with input from Michael Jordan, they created the Nike Air Jordan 1. What made the shoe so desirable was not only that Jordan wore these sneakers, so that people aspired to be like him, but most famously was the fact the shoe was banned by the National Basketball Association (NBA) . Nevertheless, Jordan carried on playing in these sneakers creating their legacy. This iconic collaboration has been the most influential to date, not just in the industry but also in society, as it challenged necessity against desire. The shoe was released by Nike to the general public, first in the US and then more widely as the popularity grew. However, Nike very carefully released limited quantities of the shoe. People queued for days to have a chance at purchasing it. People were even killed for the shoe. The first instance occurred in 1989, when a teenage boy strangled a school colleague to death for stealing his Jordans. Nike and Jordan created a sneaker that became more valuable than its suggested retail price because of this demand. Theorist Arjun Appadurai suggests that “commodities can provisionally be defined as objects of economic value”, and that the economic value of the product is created by supply vs demand which in turn creates a desire to own an object we cannot obtain” (Parry and Appadurai, 1988: p3). This changed the sneaker industry by creating a new subjective value of a shoe, that now holds more financial value dependiing on the time and context. Furthermore, “we call those objects valuable that resist our desire to possess them” which has lead to violence and death (Simmel, 1978: p67). Even to this day when the Nike Air Jordan 1 Chicago is re-released, quantities are often limited, creating a resell price. “Exchange is not a by-product of the mutual valuation of objects, but its source” (Parry and Appadurai, 1988: p4). This means it is not necessarily the shoe that has created this inflated value, but by the brand. This changed the way consumers viewed sneakers and opened up the secondary sneaker market of reselling.
Collaboration has also taken place outside of sports through celebrity endorsement, most specifically within Hip-Hop. The Jordan brand resonated with the black community in America, because it became an object that resembles success, community and hope in a place where racism was prevalent. This passed down to the next generation, especially to Hip-Hop artists. Alongside the artists’ music, style and sneakers were key in forming the artist as a brand. Each person tried to look the coolest and most relevant through their sneaker choices. Artists like Run DMC most covertly collaborated with Adidas to release the Adidas Superstars, which were globally released, and showed that it was cool to own a pair of sneakers that everyone could own. To this day, the Adidas Superstar is still an iconic sneaker. Other artists like Nelly and Fat Joe wrote songs about sneakers, Nelly is most famous for a song called “Air Force 1” which since its release, sneakers have often been mentioned within music. This type of exposure helped to sell these sneakers and created their legacy. However, problems with shoes becoming iconic, meant that further collaborations can take the shoe to new directions, but stray away from their original identity. Very recently, a brand called Vlone has collaborated on the Air Force 1 Model.
This shoe was extremely limited and was only released in New York and London. The shoe now sells on the secondary market for £2000. Since these types of collaborations have appeared, specifically in such low quantities, it has caused a shift in how sneakers are considered and appreciated within sneaker culture. It is important
to determine the difference between these two areas. Sneaker culture is an appreciation and dedication to all forms of sneakers, that goes beyond the economic value of the shoe. This economic value in the aftermath of a sneaker release, governed by supply and demand and advertising, called the resell market. The sneaker culture appreciates the underlying concepts of the sneaker, while the resell markets profit off these releases. With limited quantities available, “we call those objects valuable that resist our desire to possess them” (Simmel 1978: 67). However, these sneakers are now very rarely worn, due to their market value. Also, since there are new sneakers released every couple of days, each one with different collaborations with brands and artists, the enjoyment of the sneaker has deteriorated. The market has become over saturated with each brand trying to do the same thing. Adidas and Nike have often fought over athletes and artists that they want to sign to their label and collaborate with. While these collaborations have led to certain shoes like the Adidas x Kanye West Yeezys becoming pillars of more recent sneaker history, the real appreciation for them has dramatically changed. Collaboration has changed the way society looks at the industry, and sometimes this can be for a good cause. Nike has collaborated with Doernbecher, a children’s hospital, which has created a range of limited, high profile releases on various Nike and Jordan sneakers. In 2004, they created the Doernbecher Freestyle Charity, where they create a selection of sneakers, designed by children who are situated at the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. These shoes are then sold at at charity auctions, to raise money for the hospital. Each sneaker created has full dependence on the children’s creativity and the sneaker resembles that identity of theirs. Over 14 years this charity has raised over $17 million to advance the healthcare of children (Oregon Health & Science University, 2017). The environment and other issues surrounding us in the world are also brought to life through sneaker collaboration. Adidas and Parley, a collective of artists and projects that opens discussion about the protection of the planet, have collaborated to create a sneaker made of recycled ocean plastics. This makes something functional go beyond its purpose, creating a new identity for that shoe. It also opens the pathway for other designers to discuss and create other pieces and work towards a more sustainable future.
Another example is a shoe that was made famous in Back to the Future (1985), starring Michael J Fox. The Nike Air Mags were iconic but never released. It wasnâ€™t until 2011 that the sneaker with a self-lacing system was eventually auctioned off. There were approximately 1000 pairs of the shoe, which all sold for around $10,000. The proceeds of this went to the Michael J Fox Foundation, a charity that has specialised in Parkinsonâ€™s Disease research, a disease the actor himself suffers from. The significance of these types of collaboration is that the sneakers produced goes further than the aesthetics of the sneaker or its ergonomics. The sneaker takes on a new life, a new concept which the consumers will resonate with, and it will generally become a sneaker that will outlast trends and style. These sneakers change the industry because they create products people associate with being priceless with no monetary value as it goes further to help others and therefore means much more to the person who purchases them.
Collaboration has been vital, not only in cementing sneakers in the fashion world but everyday life too. Without the necessary athlete and celebrity endorsements, many companies would not have been able to further the longevity of their brands which have, in turn, developed complex footwear technology. Furthermore, as the industry has grown, the society we live in has also changed with it, allowing for the acceptance of sneakers in more areas of life, outside of sports. While sneakers have also helped to raise money for charity, the by-product of reselling has made financial gain more important for some and has ultimately affected the ways some sneakers are bought. Footwear has evolved undoubtably in the last 100 years, and will continue to do so in the next.
Footprints Emily Green
Reflecting the multiple aspects of my identity through layers. Layer 1: The map of my foot symbolises my foot print on a human level and represents reflexology and illustrates the organs and their functions. These organs are constructed from coloured felt â€“ the colours illustrate the differences between the organs. Layer 2: My foot map is sewn onto a map of Clifton, which features the road I live on and the streets I regularly walk down. This represents my immediate surroundings and how they impact on my identity. I have also included a map of France. This symbolizes my connection with my mum, as we visit her every summer. I have also included a map of Europe to highlight wider identity and how it can be formed in relation to other countries with similar, yet different ideals and traditions. Layer 3: To illustrate the changing and forever adapting aspects of my identity, I have added key words which describe my personality. These are attributes that others associate with me - my identity on the surface. In this piece, I am trying to show the layers of identity. The ever-expanding layers of this piece act like a ripple â€“ they suggest that our identity is continually in flux and forever adapting. The body you are born with, the people around you, and your experiences all shape your ever-evolving identity.
021 50 Concepts Lee Enever
developed this piece in response to my identity and creative practice. Rather than writing sentences about myself and my practice, I compiled a list of 50 words that describe what is important to me in my design process. These words currently inform my creative approach and will continue to do so in the future. I started the task by considering the concepts that underpin my practice. As a Graphic Designer, I created a typographical piece, that would become a reflection in itself. I lasercut each word individually on screenprinted tiles that cascade down the page. The pale faรงade illuminates the text on the highly coloured background. Considering all of these requirements, I found that each word naturally and almost subconsciously relates to the final piece.
Sketch Book Identity Valeria Labruna
aleria was born in Italy and moved to Bristol for study in September (2017). As an Italian national, she is learning to adapt to a different culture and she is embracing new traditions and perspectives. She made this drawing/collage to express her identity - fragmented and continually in flux. The aim of this drawing is to represent who she is without words; using visual communication.
Stitch Kerry Lewis
or as long as I can remember, I have collected objects. These are sometimes mundane, but always intriguing pieces, from my own â€˜cabinet of curiositiesâ€™. From seed pods, to butterfly wings or sea urchins, these
objects have helped me to understand the world, my place in it, and in turn have become part of my identity. This piece explores the scattered nature of my thoughts and the search for something clearer.
Materials - Found textiles, found objects, machine and hand embroidery.
Identity Vivienne Rose
n regard to the different categories of identity proposed by Ulrich Beck, this piece is divided between the extended self and ecological self with elements of the conceptual self. The image details the interests and beliefs that make up who I am as an individual. In the background the viewer can see a faint, distorted photocopy of my face; overlaying this is imagery of a white poppy - representing my views on war/conflict. A needle and thread which relates to my love of fashion and my status as a Fashion and Textiles student. A piece of Kanji text which reads as “Souzouteki” meaning “Creative” which was used to represent an element of my identity as well as corresponding with my interest in Japanese culture and language.
024 In addition to this, upon moving to Bristol I found myself very isolated and joining a Japanese language group really helped to combat this loneliness; it opened up many opportunities for new friendships. Lastly there is a ballet shoe in the corner, the second largest item within the image. Ballet provides another means of self expression for me, it is the art form which I find to be the most freeing. The overall aesthetic of the image correlates with my idea of beauty, the image is otherworldly, with both delicate and dark aspects and has elements which make a statement about my views.
D I V I D E D
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Art and Religion Joao de Castro
Similarities and Differences in the Use of Space and Imagery in Bristol Cathedral and Arnolfini Gallery To begin to understand the relationship between the display of art in religious and secular contexts, this essay will investigate the similarities and differences in the use of space, before applying the same method to analyse the use of imagery. The use of space, as well as some of the more subtle employment of visual references, reveals there is more in common between the two settings than first may be imagined, helping us to understand the wider cultural context in which contemporary art displays are situated. Furthermore, the ways in which they stand apart in their use of space and imagery, can help us unpick the differences in the function or intention of art in secular and religious spaces. There are some clear similarities between the use of space in a religious context as seen in Bristol Cathedral, and in a secular context, as seen at the Grayson Perry exhibition at the Arnolfini Gallery. Bristol Cathedral was purpose built, founded in 1140, and Arnolfini Gallery, though housed in a former tea warehouse, was significantly redeveloped in 1975 to accommodate the gallery. Both are defined spaces, with established boundaries and clear points of entrance. In both spaces the internal architecture guides the public around, in a sort of prescribed route. At the same
time the visitor can choose their own way through both the gallery and the cathedral, therefore taking away a more personal impression. The internal space of both locations is divided into a series of rooms, or delineated spaces, by the use of walls, steps and screens - internal doorways are limited in both spaces, reserved for marking private spaces not intended for the public. Partly due to the distinct purposes and functions of the two locations, there are significant differences in the use of space. Bristol Cathedral has clear focus, a centre piece, drawing the visitor to the heart of the cathedral and its most sacred point, the high altar. Arnolfini has no such ‘’sacred core” - though a sceptic might say that the high altar of a gallery is the gift shop. One of the most significant differences to the viewer’s experience is their proximity to the works. In the religious setting there’s a distance, i.e. the images are put higher up on the walls, there are obstacles to surmount, there’s an inbuilt lack of intimacy, as the emphasis is more on magnifying the glory of God, thus, highlighting the fragility of men. Whereas art in the Arnolfini, even monumental or large-scale works, are displayed on a human scale; many of the works are not behind glass, most are at eye-level, and the use of plinths allows the viewer to develop a more intimate relationship with the pieces.
The Perry exhibition is a series of discrete pieces, which work together to create a collection. In contrast whereas Bristol Cathedral is a homogenised display of individual works integrated into the architecture, where it can be hard to define where one work ends and another work begins. Whilst it is true to say that there is a degree of uniformity in the Arnolfini’s presentation of Perry’s work, each work of art is presented in isolation from the next. Pieces may be in a dialogue with one another as they are displayed within the space, but this is quite different to the collage of works presented in Bristol Cathedral. Although the fact the artwork displayed at Bristol Cathedral spans many centuries and represents the work of many dozens of artists and craftspeople, there is still a continuity in it’s presentation. The altar blends seamlessly into the stained glass, itself surrounded by carved stone which flows into the vaulted ceiling, blending all the elements together into one cohesive work of art; the Cathedral itself. I was also struck by one other similarity the donation boxes. Both locations are free to visit but rely on the generosity of audiences to survive. Just as in the use of space, it is possible to find similarities and differences in the use of imagery in both locations. They share a repertoire of imagery - though they may be employed for different effects. Perry draws on the rich history of ecclesiastical iconography and small-scale religious shrines in a number of his works, and the commonality of background is evident as the visitor explores both locations. Some of the shared imagery, however, isn’t quite as obvious.
Perry makes use of nails in at least three of his mixed-media sculptures. This act of “nailing” is reminiscent of the crucifixion, which, although not as prevalent as in Catholic cathedrals, does feature in the decoration of Bristol Cathedral - I found an example on the pulpit which is decorated with scenes from Jesus’ life and death. There is also something of the church in Perry’s work “Animal Spirit” which references Medieval bestiaries and illuminated manuscripts. Despite some common-ground, there are also differences. It is important to remember that the display at Bristol Cathedral is permanent occasionally added to or repaired, but always there. The Perry exhibition is ephemeral. The pieces are not all owned by the same person or organisation, and so will be divided up again once the exhibition is concluded and the space it occupied in Arnolfini will be used for another purpose. By comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences in the use of space and imagery in Bristol Cathedral and Arnolfini Gallery, it becomes evident that space is vital in determining our perception of the function of the space. For example, although there are shrines in the Perry exhibition, the presentation makes it clear that they are not intended for religious use, but to act as social commentary.
Grayson Perry Exhbition Kerry Lewis
A LESSON I N E M PAT H Y.
ith Grayson Perry, an artist for the people and social commentator, you are guaranteed to face the topics of sexuality, identity and politics at one of his exhibitions. ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever’ opens the door on the exclusive art world that is often reserved for high society. Acting as a plaster holding us together, this exhibition couldn’t be more relevant in a time when society is becoming more and more divided. The exhibition itself is split into three sections over three floors; Masculinity, National Identity and Populism. Perry takes an autobiographical approach throughout each area. Perry is down to earth, becoming a part of the subjects he commentates on. By bringing in a range of other people’s stories and experiences, Perry is able to give a broad documentation of the subject. This is shown in more detail in the screenings of his C4 television series, which is a helpful addition to the exhibition. Upon walking into the gallery, you are welcomed with the distinctive garish and gaudy colour pallet. Expect anything else and you will be disappointed. The centre piece of the room, Kenilworth AM1, a custom-built motorcycle adorned in decorative paint work and words. This piece is a far cry from the stereotypical death-defying biker image. A lot of Perry’s work is emotionally charged, but perhaps none more so than, Death a Working Hero, a tapestry depicting a miner and boxer from Durham above a coffin and mourners. Featured on Perry’s C4 programme ‘Divided Britain’, the image tells the story of a society grieving for a certain sort of man.
The popularity section is self-indulgent for the artist, but insightful and intriguing none the less. Perry is aware of the public’s fascination as much with himself as his artwork and he plays to that. Ceramic pots decorated in images of his alter ego Claire, his beloved teddy, Alan Measles and imaginary quotes from critics about the show. The most striking piece in this room is a huge woodcut titled Reclining Nude. It features the artist himself but with both male genitalia and breasts. This self-portrait has so many contrasts, between the feminine and the masculine of course, but also the elegance and calmness of the figure and the busy scene. This is perhaps my favourite piece in the exhibition; it has Perry’s distinctive naïve mark making but is bold and unapologetic. The majority of the exhibition comprises his trademark ceramic pots and tapestries, however there are a few surprises along the way. A cast iron figure titled Our Mother is a contrast to the decorative pieces in the gallery. It represents the universal feeling of being a pilgrim and searching for meaning, a central issue at the height of the EU referendum. King of Nowhere is another piece reminiscent of an artefact that shows the artist’s versatility with materials. A piece that still feels distinctively ‘Perry’ but is also new, is the shrine dedicated to him and his wife, inviting the audience into a very personal part of his life. This actually feels like a more honest rendition of himself, opposed to the larger than life persona of Claire that is attention hungry.
Each piece in the gallery has a short paragraph explaining the context of the work. It is a welcomed change to have this clear conversation between the piece and its description in a gallery. Nevertheless, it does feel like everything has been handed to you on a plate and there is little room to have your own wonderings. Perhaps some of the work is a little too obvious to an eye already familiar with the art world and could be perceived as patronising. However, art can be fun, and this exhibition certainly is witty and playful. Perry himself says, ‘People, on the whole, come to art exhibitions on their day off. They do not want to feel they are just doing their homework’. It is true, this exhibition is much less demanding on the viewer than some of the Arnolfini’s past exhibitions. There is a comforting familiarity in Perry’s often predictable work. Then of course there is what feels to be the heart of the exhibition and perhaps the most talked about section, National Identity. Here hangs the huge, Battle of Britain tapestry, striking and again full of contrast. This time between the rainbow over the grey and choked town. The detail and colours of this could hold an audience for hours.
Matching Pair, another stand out piece from the collection, is a diptych of large ceramic vases. Each vase is layered with imagery sent to the artist from either ‘leave’ or ‘remain’ Brexit voters. The result is two remarkably similar pieces. The artist himself however, states that this was the direction he wanted to take even before making the pots. Perry is not afraid to be topical, to paint about the current times and concerns, both in the wider world and closer to home. There are endless references in his work to political figures, such as Donald Trump and Churchill but also to the issues society faces, like the divide in wealth. The whole exhibition is about finding our similarities as a society, whether that be through our values, our vulnerabilities or our human nature. This is such a relevant concept for the times we are living in and I think society needs an exhibition like this to be reminded of that fact. ‘The Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever’, brings empathy to the masses.
Matching Pair (2017), another stand out piece from the collection
Redressing Gender Jill Phillips
How well is the fashion industry staying in step with our gender fluid society?
ociety is steadily moving away from binary gender stereotyping and has greater understanding and acceptance of gender diversity: How is the fashion industry reflecting this societal shift in gender fluidity? My 30-year-old son recalled a recent shopping trip. He had tried on a pair of trousers that were the type of fit that he likes but were not the colour he would have preferred. When asking if there were any in the colour he wanted he was told by the assistant that they were women’s trousers. “But do you have them in any other colours?” This got me thinking about how entrenched we are in gendered norms, and what society has deemed as appropriate in fashion, until now. Gender fluidity is not new. For many years, we have rocked to glam bands and the likes of Mick Jagger and David Bowie in androgynous and ‘gender bending’ outfits. Even Elvis Presley was partial to expressing his feminine side. Today, the growing number of people openly expressing their gender fluidity illustrates society’s increased understanding and acceptance of gender diversity. This change in attitude to gender identity is more predominant in the younger generations, as expressed by the Guardian Opinion social and community editor, Sarah Marsh, and the Guardian readers, in, The gender-fluid generation: young people on being male, female or non-binary. The article talks about a survey in which millennials from around the world were asked to define their gender. As one 23-year-old commented, “People think, just because the words to describe us are
new, that being non-binary is a fad. But people have always lived and felt non-binary – there’s just a label for it now.” (Marsh and readers, 2016). The way we express our gender identity and how we show our gender identity to the world is by external appearance, and a large part of this is by the clothes we choose to wear. Society’s concept of gender binarism, the dividing of people into two separate and distinct genders, male and female, has been challenged and the movement is stronger today than ever before. This essay asks how the fashion industry is reflecting the shift within society away from binary gender stereotyping and towards developing greater understanding and acceptance of gender diversity. It will be looking at the three major influencers in the industry which have the largest impact on the clothes we see on the high street. It will look first at the top designers and fashion houses, who experiment and innovate before showing their creations on the runway. It will then look at how the clothing brands are representing current gender trends and what they are doing to improve fashion diversity. Moving to the consumer interface with fashion, the high street, it will explore how fashion retail outlets are responding to society’s growing demand for ungendered clothing choices, and reflect on the part they could play in ending the traditional gender binary shopping experience.
Top Designers and Haute Couture
or many centuries apparel was staunchly gender distinct, men wore breeches or trousers, unless they belonged to the Church, and women wore skirts. The challenge to this gender binarism in fashion started seriously taking place in the early part of the 20th century and inspired some fashion pioneers to introduce trousers for women into their collections. In 1913 master couturier, Paul Poiret, created harem pants, loose-fitting, wide-leg trousers for women based on the costumes worn in the opera Sheherazade. Shocking polite society, fashion designer, Coco Chanel, was often seen wearing her boyfriend’s suits, and in the 1920s she started designing trousers for women to wear when participating in activities such as sports and horse riding. Even at this time women were expected to ride side-saddle and participate in sporting activities in modestlyadapted skirts. The wearing of trousers by women was widely considered socially unacceptable, with some deeming it unnatural and masculine (Fairclough, 2013). Even later, in 1939, the respected fashion magazine, Vogue, caused a stir by featuring a woman in trousers on its front cover.
However, it was Le Smoking, a tuxedo for women designed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1966 which really set the ball rolling. Inspired by the likes of Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and more recently Niki de Saint-Phalle, all of whom were known to wear men’s suits with high heels, it caused quite a flap among fashionable and ‘respectable’ society.
Although runways have seen a blurring of gender lines over the years, it was Rad Hourani’s show in 2014 that was the first couture unisex collection to make the runway. The collection was significant because of Hourani’s place in the fashion establishment and because of the status of couture in the fashion world. To disrupt traditional gender stereotyping and to emphasize the gender neutrality of the collection the models were deliberately androgynous in body shape, wearing un-gendered masks to hide gender-identifying characteristics. This device effectively removed the viewer’s instant perception of the gender identity of the model, allowing the collection to speak for itself and appeal to anyone, male or female (Cochrane, 2014). Since then runway shows have seen a growing abundance of androgyny and gender neutrality, with Rick Owens, Comme des Garcon, Issey Miyake and Burberry amongst others, celebrating gender fluidity in their 2016 collections. It seems that couture and top designers are enthusiastically embracing this new era, encouraged maybe by the willingness of personalities like artist Grayson Shipley and actor and rapper Jayden Smith to comfortably and publicly own and express their gender-fluid identity. As Lucas Ossendrijver, creative director of Lanvin Homme, says, “Losing the labels is what it’s about. This isn’t about a man wearing a skirt; it’s about a changing mindset with men – their eye for fashion has changed. Men aren’t so concerned about their masculinity anymore” (Garbarino, 2015). There is nothing new about fashion designers challenging gender norms. This can clearly be seen in the collections of the 20th and 21st centuries. What is new is that we are now seeing a greater emphasis being placed on ungendered fashion.
ome adventurous top brands have also taken up the baton. Last year New York based label, Public School, decided to show mens- and womenswear collections together, in two collections a year that are season-less and in many cases androgynous. Nicola Formichetti, artistic director of Italian label, Diesel, suggests that brands look to Asia for inspiration. “If you’re in Asia, it is more obvious that boys and girls share more in common - from fashion to makeup to music, it’s much more open. Boys are more experimental and girls are more confident” (Conlon, 2016). His own brand, Nicopanda, in strongly gender-fluid, and he has successfully integrated some genderless fashion into Diesel’s collections. Although it could be said that the use of denim in their 2014 offering, only reinforces the gender-neutrality of a textile range that has long been considered unisex.
In launching Ungendered, a new unisex collection, Zara is another big brand to offer gender neutral range. However, the tiny collection is hardly newsworthy, comprising naturally genderless items such as T shirts, sweatshirts and trousers. It is mainly niche brands, often recent start-ups, specialising in genderless fashion that are the front runners in embracing societal change. Labels like LA based 69, a non-demographic, non-gender clothing line company, and New York stalwarts Eckhaus Latta and Vaquera, all of whom are pushing the boundaries of conventional fashion to create more diversity. These brands and others like them have braved the new world of genderless fashion, creating entire collections as gender neutral, meeting the needs of the burgeoning gender fluid society.
High Street Fashion Retail
ome forward-looking outlets have experimented with gender neutrality. Two years ago, and for one month, London’s high-street fashion stalwart, Selfridges, introduced Agender, a gender-neutral pop-up department over several floors. Two years in the making, it was designed by Faye Toogood, who has also designed interiors for Comme des Garcon and Alexander McQueen. Much anticipated by fashion pundits it met with mixed reviews. WGSN Insider found it more concept than shopping experience. The appearance of bagged merchandise on rails
had visual impact but rendered the collection inaccessible. They felt the whole space rather intimidating for the browsing shopper exploring gender-neutrality (Rumsey, 2015). However, an article by Steve Garbarino mentions that the experiment was popular enough for Selfridges to consider Agender as a stand-alone department (Garbarino, 2015). Selfridge’s creative director, Linda Hewson, feels that the traditional concept of appropriate dress is being surpassed by the desire for individuality and usefulness (Hewson, 2015). Dover Street Market breaks the mould by displaying by designer, each floor a mix of womens- and menswear. You can turn away from looking at smart shirts in Comme Des Garcons Homme Plus and find yourself in the curious world of Junya Watanabe. As with Agender at Selfridges, the clothes are designer collections making them somewhat inaccessible to all but the well-heeled. In contrast, walk into any major department store and you will be directed to very distinct menswear and womenswear departments, separated not only as different sections but often entire floors.
Even the high-street fashion outlets retain these distinctions. From birth to maturity our retail fashion experience is determined by our perceived gender. I have experienced the feeling of being in the ‘wrong place’ when venturing into a menswear department, and men probably feel the same about womenswear. Parents shopping in high street stores despair at the heavily gender stereotyping of children’s clothes, with pink and frilly dominating the girls section and blue and robust the boys. Some stores have attempted to offer ungendered ranges such as the Lil Londunn unisex range at M&S in spring 2016. The range was quoted by the Let Clothes Be Clothes website as being grey/black and shapeless, perfectly comfortable in any boyswear department (Let Clothes Be Clothes, 2016). The only specifically unisex clothes for children in M&S now are school uniform and babywear. Gender binarism is still alive and strong on the high-street. As reported in the Dazed article ‘Can we actually buy into fashion’s gender revolution?’, many major retailers prefer a more traditional approach, as they say it appeals to the more mature purchasers (Dazed, Rasmussen and Allwood, 2016). The difference in sizing and shaping between mens- and womenswear also poses problems, for retailers. As body shapes differ between men and women, busts and hips for instance, many garments are cut to accommodate the differences. As Linda Hewson of Selfridges says, “How do we make it really simple for our customers? How do we communicate that a men’s medium might be size 12 or 14?” (Mellery-Pratt, 2015). For many high-street retailers, stores such as American giant Neiman Marcus, the introduction of un-gendered fashion is not on the agenda for the foreseeable future.
s innovators and artists, top fashion designers have the freedom to explore the zeitgeist and push the boundaries of convention, often creating wonderfully imaginative and sometimes outrageous designs - more wearable art than fashion items. They can, and often do, cause shockwaves in the fashion community. Their creations, conceived by their artistic flair and observations of society, give birth to new concepts. However, it is the larger retailers, and therefore the brands, who drive what we find in fashion stores, both online and on the high street. Two major challenges are sizing/fit and customer shopping patterns. Anita Barr, of Harvey Nichols, reflects that in her experience men generally know what they want, find it and buy it. Women on the other hand, prefer to browse before they make a purchase (Barr, 2016). The new menswear department in the basement of their Knightsbridge flagship illustrates this company’s mindset where, despite hosting gender-fluid brands such as Hood by Air, there is a very masculine atmosphere. In conclusion, it seems that top designers and the gender-defying brands are leading the way in the move towards diversity, inclusivity and the un-gendering of fashion. However, despite a noticeable shift in society towards un-gendered fashion there is no hard evidence that society as a whole is ready for a radical change. Until there is, major retailers will continue with the traditional culture of gender binarism as they see little profit in changing.
am a 3rd year Fine Art and Design student at Bristol School of Arts. As an artist, I am interested in imbalances of power, traditions, and religion vs contemporary living and its innate connections to the fabric of “reality”. My work is influenced by my own biography and experiences. By using common materials, as well as photography, video and performance, I give form to collective experiences (vulnerability, pain, loss, trauma, discrimination) of the minority/marginalised communities. When faced with discrimination on daily basis, the impact on the individual/s (or the collective group) can create, deeply rooted emotional, psychological and even physiological scarring. By way of artistic exploration, I am aiding understanding and creating a space for healing at the same time.
At the end of my 2nd year I was accepted for a month long artist residency in Yerevan, Armenia. Armenia is an ancient country with her feet firmly rooted in Orthodox Christianity. In addition, she has a history of being ruled by neighbouring countries. Her relationship with Ottoman Empire came to a bloody end in 1915 with an estimated 1.5 million individuals killed and many more displaced. This has left the Armenian community traumatised to this day. As a Turkish born artist it was an immensely important opportunity for me to increase my understanding of this colossal historic tragedy.
rt and Cultural Studies Laboratory ( ACSL) is one of two Artist residencies in Yerevan, Armenia. It is run by a wonderful Curator and art critique Susanna Gyulamiryan as a “one women show”. Passion, determination, commitment and conviction are what keeps her going and this allows Yerevan to have a small but thriving contemporary art scene. ACSL is situated at a no frills residential neighbourhood 10km out of city centre, this neighbourhood known as Bangladesh, named by disgruntled residents who felt exiled onto a faraway land. I had never been to a post Soviet country before. When I woke up after a long journey I felt the keen anticipation one gets arriving in a foreign country. I was surrounded by formidable high rises as far as the eye could see and in the distance, Ararat Mountain - forever snowy peaked and just as formidable.
Wherever you go in Yerevan you never loose sight of this holy mountain. For Armenians, Mount Ararat is more than “just a biblical legend”, it is a constant reminder of the lost country and countrymen! Armenia is a land-locked country, sharing, borders with Iran, Georgia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, the latter two of those borders are currently shut due to historic and diplomatic conflicts.
Turkey and Armenia share a tumultuous past. It is believed that nearly 1.5 million Armenians were killed and many more displaced during the deportation which began in April 1915. Turkey has never acknowledged the genocide nor apologised and since then the land border remains firmly shut. The current political climate in Turkey makes it even more unlikely that the conflict will resolve anytime soon or at all. I was somewhat prepared for an emotionally charged residency but what I could not fathom was the fact that nearly every single person I met, lost a family member to the genocide. Collective trauma is now deeply embedded into every fabric of culture and society. As a Turkish born artist I could not ignore nor did I feel I had the artistic maturity to produce work on this subject. I wanted to use my time to collect â€œmaterialsâ€? meet locals and get a feel of the country. I was not put under any pressure to produce work, my time was my own. I met my mentor regularly to exchange and discuss ideas.
It was in these sessions that an idea was formed. I long had fascination of eggs. Their symbolism and the way they are linked to procreation, life and promise and their closely connection to paganism as well as Christianity made me think.
WHEREVER YOU GO IN YEREVAN YOU NEVER LOOSE SIGHT OF THIS HOLY MOUNTAIN.
Virtual Conversation Will Bertram
irtual Reality is emerging as an artistic medium: Creative apps like ‘Tilt Brush’ allow artists to make immersive virtual installations with almost no limitations. Without having to abide by the restrictions of existing laws of physics (e.g. gravity), artists can create things not physically possible. Working in virtual reality is extremely intuitive. Not to say it doesn’t take practice, but practice is a half hour run through followed by a few hours changing brush textures, colours, and creating illuminated slashes and swirls until a creative rhythm is found. Once a rhythm is found, imagination is the only limitation.
These clay sculptues were used to inform the visual language developed by virtual painting. Air-dry clay & acrylic paint.
For me, imagination was the easy part. It was the virtual canvas which added a challenging dimension. The additional dimension means that lines are extremely difficult to join; drawing becomes more sculptural and dependent on the layering of textures. Knowing this, I made some small clay sculptures influenced by the folkloric photographs of Charles Fréger to recreate in Tilt Brush. Thinking more sculpturally, I used virtual wire to draw a mesh which I then painted with virtual oil paint. This process informed a new series of experimental drawings, which employed spot welding to create wire sculptures that mimic the virtual mesh skeletons. To me, this demonstrates how virtual reality can be used by artists, not only to create things beyond physical possibility, but to enhance their practice and help develop ideas.
I N S T A L L A T I O N S NO
W I T H
L I M I TAT I O N S ’
Virtual Painting. Explorations after Muybridge, 2018.
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Acknowledgements Aaliyah Blair Abi Nicol Buli Flash Caroline Hammond Dan Hallam David Beech Debbie Douglas
Emily Green Erika Horvath Farinaz Pourebtehaj Jane Speedy Jess Thomas Jill Phillips Jo Kear
Joanne Jose Joao de Castro Julia Donnelly Kelly Gillett Kerry Lewis Kiran Patel Lee Enever
Liz Price Lydia Wooldridge Magda Nowak Mandy Hall Matt Benton Mark Samsworth Rachel Bullen
Cyclus Offset (recycled) 300gsm Cyclus Offset (recycled)140gsm
Printing Printer: Xerox 800 Stapler: Nagel Foldnak 40 Booklet Maker Guillotine: Eba 721-06 lt Score: Morgana Digicreaser
Oli Timmins Ronja Thielmann Rosie Ford Sally Coulden Sarah-Jayne Crowson Sarah Jose Tatyana Tsekova
Timea Alexa Valeria Labruna Vera Boele-Keimer Vivienne Rose Wesley Owen Will Bertram Will Robinson
Issue 1 of conTEXT: a student-led journal examining critical questions in Art and Design. Developed by HE students at Bristol School of Art....
Published on Feb 20, 2018
Issue 1 of conTEXT: a student-led journal examining critical questions in Art and Design. Developed by HE students at Bristol School of Art....