Is Alex Kisilevich’s work in ‘On the Surface’ necessarily and completely melancholic? I have seen it written elsewhere that such is the effect of the photographs in this project. No doubt each picture is invested with a strong sense of nostalgia. The people photographed all face reflections of themselves in younger or older states, and in every case something has been or, we know, will be lost. This is what nostalgia is—a sense that the present is missing what makes the past memorable. In the difference between the real and reflected selves is that irreducible gap, that loss, that part of you now unattainable. It is the self become other to itself, the self alienated. All photographs force us to recognise change, because photography is the reinsertion of the past into the present, the formation of a standard of comparison. At the same time as it jogs memory and allows us, in a superficial way, to relive bygone moments, it reminds us that the dominion of the past is dead, inorganic. Commonly we hear it argued that history is subjective and malleable; it can be rewritten, tweaked, revised. But the photograph encourages us to view the past in a fixed, objective state. It suggests that we have only so much free space for interpretation. This is the sad fact that Alex’s photographic objects face—that these older selves are inevitable, these younger ones unrecoverable, and there is little to nothing we can do about it. So what we have here is the convergence of two realms. The photograph is in itself a nostalgic object. And this meets with its subject matter, which itself brings about nostalgia. These are really images within images, a representation made inside of the rules of representation, and the effect is exponential. The melancholy of the people within the frame seems to grow every time you revisit these photographs. Such, we might argue, is one of the essential components of good art—that it fails to lose effect whenever its audience returns, and in fact becomes ever more potent. Website: Alexkisilevich.com
Concept fashion is becoming more common in the fashion industry, with designers exploring bridges between fashion and other disciplines to create clothes that are extreme and push boundaries. Lianna Sheppard is an MA graduate from Kingston University whose work centres around body architecture and how fashion and fabrics can change the silhouette of the body. Lianna describes her work as“exploring the transition of forms and shapes from flat to 3D and how these work on both the human form and the negative space that surrounds it”. This interesting design philosophy allows Lianna to be really free and challenge herself in her work and the results are some fascinating pieces. Lianna's graduating collection from her BA at UWE Bristol was entitled 'Play with Shapes', indicating that Lianne has always had the same passion for exploring 3D forms that she has built upon since her BA. The collection demonstrates sublime pattern cutting allowing the garments to change with movement and extend the human form in different ways. Lianna combines shape, print and a great sense of colour to create a bold, striking collection that does not rely on its boldness to stand out as it is clear how intricate and considered the designs are. One of the great things about the collection is how Lianna takes a simple inspiration, the shapes from children's toys and minimalist art, and uses it to create sophisticated, classy fashion silhouettes, whilst maintaining a sense of the playful. This element of fun is furthered in the way that many of the designs in the collection are interchangeable and can be turned inside out or upside down and worn in different ways.
Another interesting collection by Lianna is her Modu_gram collection. Inspired by mathematical models and fractional forms, Modu_gram is a collection of 3D wearable structures. The collection was created through exploring folding and origami techniques through which the wearable shapes can transform with movement, light or colour and have a very theatrical sense to them. The collection demonstrates how shapes can really perform with the body and how the human form can adapt or change.
Lianna also has an online shop selling concept jewellery, giving everyone a chance to enter into her fun, explorative world.
I hate to admit it but as the summer slowly makes its farewell, the autumn encroaches upon us. So that we don’t get too disheartened, here’s a reminder of all the beauty that this transformative season can bring and inspire.
Illustrator: Teagan White
Looking at Teagan White is the visual equivalent of settling down with a comforting cup of tea. Drawing inspiration from folklore, woodland nature and wildlife, White creates exquisitely delicate illustrations and typographic designs. She is continually experimental with her style to create unique individual pieces, whilst a clearly developed signature drawing technique and warming, autumnal palette throughout unifies her body of work.
Particular favourites of mine are her numerous woodland scenes depicting creatures and children going about their daily domestic activities as well as the typography series where White incorporates natural processes into the creation of a single word, thus adding new layers of meaning to its original significance.
To view more of her charming designs, visit: Teaganwhite.com or take alook at her tumblr for a fascinating look at her photography and designprocesses: Teaganwh.tumblr.com
Photographer: Bárbara Vidal
Bárbara Vidal is a fashion photographer whose application of natural spaces within her work has a powerfully ethereal effect. Vidal often plays with contrasts within a single image, such as restrained/unrestrained lighting, subdued/vivid colour, clarity/soft focus to create an ephemeral atmosphere throughout a shoot.
The Crystalised series, for example, captures a mysterious woman roaming an autumnal landscapeof woodland, rocks and ocean. A reduced colour palette of earthy browns,mustard yellows and blue-tinged greys, along with Vidal’s inclination to shootin landscape format makes this less of a fashion shoot and more the loosestrands of an enigmatic, untold fairytale.
Italian-born filmmaker Leonardi Dalessandri’s short piece An Autumn’s Tale is composed of a series of moving portraits of individuals in a public park. With a mixture of unknownand prepared portraitures, this film is a stunning exploration of human naturemade beautiful through Dalessandri’s imaginative framing and wonderfullycomposed shots. Shot in sumptuously rich colours that express the essence ofthe season, the images match the rising tempo of the soundtrack to create anemotive portrayal of Autumnal human activity. One for the people watchers inall of us.
Name: Olwen Bourke Age: 32 Occupation: Designer Inspiration: Sandra Backlund, Alexander McQueen, Antonio Marras There is nothing I don’t love about this stunning collection created by the incredibly talented Olwen Bourke. It is ethereality and rock chick combined, beautifully crafted and designed to illustrate the sinister, yet exotic jungle paintings of Henri Rousseau, pictured below: Rousseau was widely celebrated for his extraordinary modernist version. His paintings were heralded for their dream-like nature and bold style, two attributes Bourke and Rousseau share. Each of Bourke’s designs is a fashion statement, each of them as attention-grabbing and stunning as the next. Olwen explains ‘I wanted it to be pretty and feminine but I also wanted it to feel a little dark and sinister so I used a lot of black and leather detailing to give it an edge. I was also looking [at] Japanese art and oriental silk screens depicting nature’. Olwen’s favourite piece from the collection is the blue draped dress, pictured below: She says ‘I made the bird feathers from pieces of an old suede jacket and I love the way the faded suede was transformed and given a new lease of life as a bird!’ The bird detailing certainly adds a unique flavour to the dress, illustrating not only Olwen’s tremendous craftsmanship, but also her originality. Given that the majority of her collection is filled with dresses, tt comes as no surprise to learn the garment is Olwen’s favourite to design: ‘I guess you can be very experimental with dresses. It's all about taking a body and seeing how you can drape things around it to transform and enhance it’. Getting into fashion design is often a daunting prospect for aspiring designers; but, as Olwen proves, it is entirely possible with the right schooling and talent: ‘I always wanted to be a fashion designer and used constantly draw pictures of dresses as a child. Whenever my family went on holiday I would sketch every outfit that I was taking with me. When I left school I did a BA degree in Fashion Design in Dublin (where I grew up) and graduated with a first class honors. I was keen to start up my own label but I wanted to get industry experience first. I worked for a year in Dublin as a children’s wear designer and then moved to London. I got a job as a ballroom dress designer for a company who made dresses for professional dancers, performers and for TV shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing On Ice. After a few years I left that job and began doing freelance design work for various fashion companies in London and Paris. In January of this year I launched my own fashion label with my first collection entitled Paradise Lost’. Things are certainly on the up for the talented designer. With hopes to continue designing bespoke dresses and jackets, and create a more accessible range available to buy from stockists and online, I have no doubt we will soon be seeing Olwen’s clothes everywhere. I know I’d certainly be wearing them! Website: Olwenbourke.com
Anthony Gerace is an artist living and working between Toronto and London. A man of multiple talents, Anthony is both photographer and graphic designer. His series ‘FRIENDSHIP’, pictured above, were created for an event of the same name at Toronto-based venue The Ossington. FRIENDSHIP is described as a sit-down and drink party where postpunk, rap, funk and new wave music are boomed out of the speakers every other month.
Anthony’s series of posters, both illustrative and photographic, take the word ‘Friendship’, and play around with it in all sorts of different contexts. Friendship is quite simply defined as a relationship between friends: amity, fellowship, companionship. The first poster is a perfect representation of friendship’s beginning: a coming together of people of different ages, backgrounds, and personalities. The vibrancy and colour of the poster is perfectly indicative of the excitement that comes with meeting new people: a colourful clash of personalities.
The third poster takes a more spiritual take on friendship. It is the religious friendship between the spiritual matriarch of the Roman Catholic Church and her believers. The brown colour palette brings us back to those earthly beginnings when religion began. The design of the poster is beautifully composed with both FRIENDSHIP and the Virgin Mary as the central focus. The use of gradient on the backdrop of the poster gives it an effortlessly sleek feel, whilst disintegrating into the aged statue.
Every one of Anthony’s posters is a graphical masterpiece, excellently composed, sharp, sleek, and thought-provoking. Check out more of Anthony’s work on his Flickr.
The above photos are from ‘Mushishi’, the final project by Layla Kong, a postgraduate student in Fashion Design at Winchester School of Art, University of Southampton.
The original inspiration for the collection was from Mushishi, a Japanese cartoon about a different species called ‘Mushi’ living in another world that is invisible to human beings. Except for the intriguing story and music, Layla was deeply attracted to its beautiful scenes. Layla adopted the colours from the landscapes in the cartoon that are soaked in Chinese brush and ink paintings, and imitated the Japanese ukiyoe waves to create the silhouette of the garments.
‘Mushishi’ presents Layla’s ideas perfectly. Light organza has been used as the main fabric, and has been innovatively cut, folded and sewed together to create a wavy, floaty and dreamy effect. The fabric has been hand-dyed to subtle greenish, bluish and greyish tones, which convey a placid and relaxing feeling. The collection is like a fresh breeze blowing from the sea.
In this final project, Layla has drawn fashion illustrations, produced four garments including some hand dyeing work, and participated in the photo shooting, video shooting and exhibition arrangements. Having finished the programme, she is now one big step closer to becoming a professional fashion designer.
Photographs are usually mute about their effects. More often than not, they purport to be neutral, unbiased records of reality. They claim to be inert, to require analytical intervention before they become active and begin to generate emotion. This is why Krista Palmu’s enterprise ‘JoyHey’ stands outside of the mainstream. Instead of focusing primarily on the work itself, on its intrinsic character, it prefers to see art more as a means to an end. ‘With the fundamental philosophy of creating joy and making life happier JoyHey strives for pastellizing the world through ethereal daydreams,’ Krista explains.
It is a utopian venture that genuinely believes in the capacity of photographs to uplift our lives. Its main vehicle is nostalgia, the transmission of the past in the present, the visitation of a rose-tinted period in grimmer, greyer times. These photographs all receive ‘softening treatment’ and reproduce a reality slightly less intense, slightly easier to comprehend than the original. The photographs do not depict complex subject matter; they keep to the stereotypically idyllic. To charge the artist for being too tentative, for failing to explore the range of photographic subjects that can create these feelings, would seem to miss the point. Krista aims for a sugared, softened recollection of the past and simply delivers that.
Taken as a whole, the output of JoyHey represents a compendium of childhood delights. It portrays lots of cakes and other sweet foods, and thus relies to a large degree on synesthesia to produce its multisensory, all-consuming effect. Everything from ‘sprinkles bears’ to chocolate buttons occupy a little space in this ever-expanding project. Krista likens her photographs to dreamworks, idealised versions of reality. This is nearly antithetical to the view of photography I mentioned at the beginning—she seems to view the camera as something that can levitate the observable into a higher, more pleasurable sphere of being.
The ever evolving possibilities of materials as contemporary technologies is giving so much scope to the world of textile design, bringing new techniques and aesthetics into the industry. There are some really talented designers graduating from universities all over the country who have the passion and imagination to create unique ideas, and Kate Miles is one of those. A graduate from both the Chelsea College of Art and Design and RCA, Kate has exhibited at Premier Vision in Paris and sold her work to some prestigious designers and it is easy to see why; her ideas are fascinating, experimental but sophisticated. Smoke Boxes is “A captured moment in time; inspired by the intangible and unpredictable nature of smoke. Digital wallpapers developed from a range of wood veneers exposed to smoke bombs.” The use of traditional techniques is really interesting and although the wallpapers have an antique, classic look to them the use of shapes to intersect the smoke patterns provides an interesting combination of the fluid smoke with the geometrics. The flat smoke images are given a 3D aspect by the shapes and play tricks on the eye and some of the wallpapers are almost reminiscent of outer space imagery. The boxes themselves are exposed to “movements of a wisp or cloud of smoke mapped across three dimensional and printed surfaces, following an explosive reaction”. The concept of making a visual recording of an event on the 3D surface is simply fascinating and opens so many doors in terms of possibilities with similar ideas. However, Kate also experiments with modern materials and technologies and not just traditional techniques. Within a group project, Kate explored the ostensibly impossible capabilities of materials, exploring the “moment of flux when hybrid thermoplastic and textile materials change from hard to soft”. This resulted in fabrics remaining in fascinating drapes and forms that only these amazing technologies could produce. The drapes in the fabrics distort the lines on them, playing with form, print, movement and shape simultaneously. Kate’s ideas would be amazing applied to fashion; smoke bombed fabrics and silhouettes created by thermoplastic materials – the potential is very exciting!
Czlowiek Kamera is not this artist’s real name. According to his website, the appellation means ‘cam-man’ or ‘human-cam’. Principally he records videos of musicians using a single camcorder, but his output also includes some fascinating photography. Czlowiek’s name provides us with a productive starting point for analysing his work, as it immediately brings into relief the conceptual distinctions we make between the photographic subject and object.
It suggests a conflation or merging of the photographer with his or her apparatus. But Czlowiek’s pictures also have interesting things to say about the obverse side of the photographic enterprise: the world of the objects depicted. The exact identity of the object is often defined by how much natural context the photographer leaves intact. Since the image is always a finite space, a bounded region, a slice of reality, something is of necessity lost when a photograph is taken. These pictures of hands and arms and other body parts protruding from opaque substances play with this notion of context. New regions, dark and inexpressive, emerge in the frame and begin to challenge the authority of its content. It exposes quite vividly the fragmentary nature of all photographs.
The picture of the person vomiting a continuous image is, viewed in this light, particularly interesting. We may wonder whether the modern world is in part defined by this overabundance of images, the endless reproduction and reinsertion of what is already visible within it. This picture seems to suggest that such pictures have in some way sickened our culture. Now we see everything rejected, but this time as one complete photograph, uninterrupted and fluid, with the context reinstated. The person here has become a sort of photographer, and one without the limitations of the machinery, which can only capture so much reality at once. This almost instantiates the ideal relation between photographer and apparatus, where each transcends the limits of the other.
In celebration of the summer of sun that we’ve sort of had every now and then, this week’s post explores three artists whose work expresses a version of flowerpower that has less to do with 70s American counterculture and more to do with exuberance, mystique and originality. Enjoy!
Print Designer: Amy Sia
Amy Sia is a London based designer who creates eye-poppingly vivid designs for beautiful and affordable silk scarves. Using a combination of mediums such as paint, pencil and photography, Sia’s unique abstract designs are full of explosive colours that mingle and gleam upon the luminous fabrics.
Here are some examples of Sia’s flowery designs, each one depicting a brilliant burst of natural colour in great profusion.
Working in LA, Amanda Charchian’s photography aims toexplore the spiritual and subconscious through physical means. Using techniquessuch as multiple layering of images, colour tinting, as well as under and over-exposingher photographs, Charchian’s work truly does speak of unreality.
Her Wringing Sun series focuses on flowers as a motif throughout the photographs. Petals andDaisies are superimposed over models’ hands, arms and bodies, and a woman’sbody floats in a swimming pool clasping a bouquet; Charchian creates anunnerving anonymity that lends the photographs an aura of magic and ambiguity.
Tell No One is a collabrotive production company made up ofwriter and director Luke White and Remi Weekes, who together make commercialand fashion films. Their recent short Dynamic Bloomsis a brilliant showcase of their imagination and skill.
Using the simple concept of a flower, White and Weekesrecord models that stand or float in dream-like gowns until a sudden leap or kickcauses an explosion of movement to emanate from the garment itself, creating acolourful, flower-like “bloom”. The effect is reminiscent of the now commontime-lapse process used in documentaries, often to show the setting of the sun,the bustle of the city or even, the blooming of a flower.