It's inspiring, and in some ways reassuring, and fun.
Chelsea clearly has a lively textiles course, and you can see the fine art, graphic and interior & spatial design work at the same time, just over the road from the Tate Britain.
Walking around it this year, I was thinking about what I want to see, as a 'consumer', and what I came up with was either beautiful, or witty, or best of all, innovative pieces. As Martin Newth, BA Fine Art Programme Director says in the introduction to the catalogue: 'Perhaps the most exciting work is that in which the sense of the artist taking a risk is most evident.' There are always a few that stay with you. This time I was also on the look out for feminist art, to work out for myself whether I agree with Judy Chicago that the present generation is not building on previous ones (Explored in my sketchbook rather than here). And noticing how effective or otherwise were some different ways of presenting textile work.
The simple and effective use of a 2D fabric to make 3D regular patterns. Loved it, and want to try some myself.
I think the presentation let it down a bit.
I much prefer the way it was presented in the catalogue (see below), which showed the eye for colour and texture, and the three dimensional nature of it, much better.
The beautiful bright colours of the open work and contrast with the flat white of the shirt caught my eye, and reminded me that I have wanted to explore more with the dissoving fabric.
I hadn't thought of trying contrasting colours.
This would be great to wear.
I'm not sure the layers work very well. I didn't really notice the colours underneath. Perhaps it works better on.
Fantastic textures, like decaying snake skin.
Witty ideas (below) made in an interestingly different way.
I thought that this, more than any of the more overtly feminist pieces, expressed the emotional content of the difficulties of having a female identity.
It made me aware of how many cultural assumptions we make about clothing, and what is expected or permissible. And that making clothing that breaks these expectations this out can be very effective.
Ji Chen took the idea of weaving into a third (or is it fourth?) dimension with attractive and interesting results.
Smart ideas for presenting work in a professional way included this book printed by Snapfish, and Chloe Griffin's poster skillfully produced to look like an advertisment for high end casual clothng.
Nic Worsley's samples (below left) were hung to emphasise the appeal to boutique shoppers. And the placement of Chaerin Lee's attractive variations on subtle woven waves (below right) suggested an appeal to industry.
|Natasha Gervais' collars were unique and intriguing.|
I was only sorry that she hadn't made a whole
costume with this technique.
|Eve Kennedy's beautiful translucent fabrics captured the regular reflectiveness of|
skyscrapers in a way I could only dream of.
It repaid more looking - there are several layers of detail here. One close-up is shown on the right.
I sometimes wonder whether it's ok to make something just because it is interesting to me, (ie without 'meaning' or purpose) and then I see something like this and know that as long as it's done wholeheartedly, that's more than fine!
One thing that always occurs to me at textile design shows is that it must be quite tricky for tutors, since there is clearly a wide variety of aims in the student body. Unlike, say fine art, or graphic design, where there is a bit more of a direction intrinsic to the subject. Some students clearly hope to design for industry, while others are exploring the nature of existence, and still others the qualities and potentials of the materials and techniques. I suppose that you hope that by the end of the degree each student will have an idea about which strand suits them best. It does seem to be divided by technique, though (weave, print etc), rather than along commercial/ Art/ craft lines. I guess dividing it in this way is just in my head and they're all artists.