So, earlier in the year I was asked by Professor Wendy Dagworthy to curate an installation dedicated to this years graduates of the RCA’s School of Material that includes MA programmes in Ceramic and Glass, Menswear, Womenswear, Accessories, Textiles, Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork and Jewellery. The installation was part of Scoop, the three-day womenswear tradeshow, housed at the Saatchi Gallery and Phillips art auction house in London. The School of Material installation was located at Phillips in a fabulously airy space (all white metal and glass) called the Winter Garden. My initial quandary was how to bring together such diverse mediums, although this challenge was made much easier by the art school’s commitment to a cross-collaborative experience and an embedded emphasis on encouraging the students to break the mould within their chosen medium and explore new materials and methodology. It was my aim to illustrate this narrative by juxtaposing the wonderful work of the students, presenting fashion alongside ceramics and accessories that looked like sculptures. Central to the display was a classical inspired sculpture by Ester Svensson featuring a pair of severed feet in motion stepping out to a cache of shoes in a variety of materials – these included mismatched pairs in metal look leather by Julia Thomas and exquisite wood and metal wedge sandals by Rachel Jui Chi Chang. The title of the display, ‘Where fashion ends and art begins…’ highlighted the blurred line between a shoe made of concrete and glass by Iva Minkova (Womenswear Accessory) and a jewellery box shaped like a shoe cast in bronze by Daniel Woodford (Metalwork and Jewellery). While giant glazed ceramic pieces by Enrique Perezalba Red were shown on bare plinths, metal and resin clutch bags by Fflur Owen and jackets by Joseph McGee and Liam Hodges were displayed artfully in Perspex vitrines. This was doublethink for the traffic-stopping wool and latex jackets of McGee (see photo), as the designer took much of his original inspiration from the crushed car sculptures of John Chamberlain. Signage for the installation was equally arty with the designer’s names naively hand-painted on torn pieces of pattern-cutting paper that were taped haphazardly amongst other screwed-up sheets of paper. The Winter Garden turned out to be the perfect setting for the encrusted crystal jewellery-cum-body sculptures of Inderjeet Sandhu and a halo of plastic icicles by Maiko Takeda teamed with a leather boiler suit by Seung Yeon Jee. Shown alongside a man’s padded coat by Lucie Vincini and furry hat by Liam Hodges, it made a contrary style statement for a sweltering summer’s day that, I hope, perfectly captured the curious talents of the RCA graduates.


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