Friday, 7 January 2011

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes Exhibition

Serge Pavlovich Diaghilev (1872-1929), created the Ballets Russes in 1909. They stood out in Paris because of the amazing art noveuo inspired costumes combined with the unusual choreography. Their use of male dancers also made them stand out, as male dancers hadn't performed in dances of this style for more than two decades. Igor Stravinsky was the man behind the music. He was born in Russia, and there were clear influences of this in his Music.

The Ballets Russes managed to stay together through WW1, despite a lot of disruption, and then in the 1920s, they had to adjust to a changed economic circumstance. Their style adapted to fit modern interests such as beach culture, film and sport which is shown in costumes designed for them buy people such as Coco Chanel in 1924.

The British Museum

The British Museum

The British Museum was founded by King George II during the scientific enlightenment. The King was given so many gifts, most of which he didn't want in his house. As a place for storage and  to allow other people to admire the gifts, he created the British Museum.

The African art found its way to the British Museum around 1870. Britian had been trading with Benin since the 1600s, until in 1897 a quarrel over lead, led to Britian invading Benin. The Royal Palace was destroyed and all of it's contents were were taken to Europe. From then on, the African art was displayed in the British Museum. However the art was often displayed in a way to make it more 'primitive' looking. Artists such as Picasso were influenced heavily by African art but chose the pieces that were the most 'primitive' looking to work from. The idea of African art as being a 'Primitive' can be misleading. Often the pieces that were chosen to be exhibited could have been made 200 years before but could have been compared to work of the current artists, at the time in Europe.

In the British Museum the issue that the African art shouldn't be there because it should be returned to its, many would say, rightful owners, is skirted around. It seems as though they can't accept it. If they said it was stolen and so not rightfully theirs, there would be no option but to give it back.
The tree of Life.
The cold war was over, and there was peace and stability in Mozambique. However, there were still millions of guns left in the country. This meant that weapons were easily available to anyone who wanted them. To reduce this threat and to create a positive input into the country, Bishop Dom Dinis Sengulane of the Christian council of Mozambique set up the Transforming Arms into tools project. This is where they took the left over weapons and exchanged them for farming equipment. With the collected weapons, some Mozambican artists made sculptures like the Tree of Life, as shown in the photo, to show the change in attitude towards violence in Mozambique.

The Tree of Life was my favourite piece in the collection at The British Museum.  You get a real sense of the feelings and the struggles in Mozambique and the video in the exhibition also helps to tell their story.
The Guns were a symbol of war and suffering. Now everything the guns represented, has been completely reversed to convey an opposite message, which is something so positive. 
It was important that this piece of art work was created, and seeing it in the British Museum shows how Mozambicans want to be seen and helps to spread this positive message that the artists wanted to portray.


It was also interesting to see the Masquerade Masks and costumes. Seeing articles from another culture is fascinating, and at first the whole idea of the Masquerade may seem alien to us. The more you read about it, however, the more you see similarities to our own religious practices in the UK.  Masquerades usually happen at the changes of the seasons and rites of passage, such as initiations and deaths. All times when Westerners hold celebrations or have national holidays. For example in the Christian religion, people celebrate Christmas in the winter and Easter in the Spring. Funerals and Baptisms are also examples of this.

V&A- East meets West

The Victoria and Albert Museum
East meets West

The lecture was a good introduction to the collection at the V&A. Learning about the context of the exhibition and what was happening in the textiles industry at the time the items were produced really helped to set the scene and helped me to understand the significance of the items.

I found that the collection illustrated well, the production of garments and fabrics world wide at the time, and by the end of seeing the collection I was surprised at my ability to be able to tell where the pieces where made and who they may have been made for.

What I found most fascinating was not seeing the most expensive and most sort after fabrics, but seeing how people in their desire to have the latest  trends in fashion or interior design, would recreate the trends themselves.  They used what ever materials they could afford and spent, maybe months recreating these fabrics to use in their homes. There was one piece of bedding which illustrated this very well. When a certain design was popular in China, the very wealthy in Britain could afford to buy these pieces. However in this example someone in Britain had recreated the bedding using affordable British thread which was a lot thicker than the fine thread used in the Chinese designs. The outcome was bedding with the same design as the expensive Chinese bedding but with a very different overall look. It was amazing to see how much work someone would put into something, just to have the latest trends. 

Another piece in the exhibition, which I found fascinating was a casket made by Martha Edlin. The intricatly  embroidered casket was mde from pearls, silk and metal threads. The reason I was so drawn to it was that Martha Edlin was just 11 years old when she made the Casket. Her needlework is incredibly skillful for someone of 11 years of age.

Pop-up2- Heavyweight

My new pop-up is based around the concept of weight. I've started by looking mainly at obesity and fattening foods. Ive been drawing fast-food and things like doughnuts and waffles, trying to portray the greasy, sickly qualities of the food by using materials which have this quality. I have been doing a lot of dipping pen and ink drawings combined with watercolour because when the ink drips and you draw in a loose way it suggests that the food has a sloppy texture.

Something that I thought might be good to use in my work were the little pots that you pump the ketchup into, in places like MacDonald's. They look quite simple, but when you deconstruct them you see that how they have been folded is quite interesting. Also you can stack them and slightly change each one to create different forms.

I have kept a MacDonald's Big Mac for weeks now, to draw and take photos of, and I am amazed at how it has managed to keep. The amount of chemicals the food is pumped with is quite apparent. When the food is cold and you actually look at the 'meat' properly, it makes your stomach curl. There are a lot of layers in the Big Mac which makes it good to draw. However there aren't many different colours to draw as there is a huge lack of salad.

However, I can't pretend that the doughnut looks at all disgusting. I liked the colours in the doughnuts, like the pastel pink.  I tried drawing the sprinkles in continuous line which made quite a nice pattern.

I have also tried drawing some weighing scales and i might start looking into obesity more. I'm enjoying this idea at the moment and it is easy to bring more objects into draw as they are very easily accessible and cheap.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Trash Fashion

Trash Fashion is an exhibition looking at ways to ‘design out waste’. In society nowadays, there is a heightened awareness of pollution and environmental issues. However, the textiles industry doesn’t accurately reflect this change in attitudes. There is a huge amount of waste in all stages of textile processes and 60% of textiles that are thrown away could be recycled or reused. Trash Fashion shows works of innovative designers who have come up with ways to try to combat the problems and make the textiles a much more ecological industry.
‘Knit to Fit’ is one approach shown in Trash Fashion. This new concept looks to dramatically change the way clothes are produced, by a new made to measure method using a 3D body scanner. The scanner creates a virtual image of the customer’s dimensions, in 6 seconds. The customer can choose the style, fit and colour they prefer before it is connected up to a computer knitting programme. The machine will then knit a perfect fitting garment. The garments are seamless which eliminates the wastage of material involved in the cutting process. The customer’s dimensions and preference can be saved on a card so that each time a customer goes into a shop to buy something, their stored information can be brought up straight away. Knit to fit, as the name suggests is only for knitted garments so I don’t know if it could completely take over the textiles industry. However I do think it is a clever idea, if it caught on as it would help make bespoke knitwear affordable.
Another equally as innovative idea is shown in the piece entitled ‘Bio-culture’. It shows how we don’t need to use harsh chemicals and non-degradable fabrics because we can grow our own using bacteria. The bacteria, which are actually microbes that ferment green tea, are left to grow in bathtubs and then the material is shaped, dried and cut down to size. The result is a garment that is completely bio-degradable and once it is worn out it will completely disappear if buried under the ground. Because the material absorbs water it can be quite heavy and gooey but the finished product looks very delicate and organic. It looks as though it might crumble if not treated with great care. However, it may not be as fragile as it appears. If this idea was to catch on and become used widely it would hugely reduce the amount of waste produced. However, I would guess that initially it would be a very costly to get this idea into production.

Keep Trim by Mark Liu was in my opinion, one of the best ideas. Unlike some of the other ideas, this one doesn’t seem to need to make any compromises. The bio-culture idea, although very clever, doesn’t look very wearable. Keep trim on the other hand, wouldn’t look out of place in any shop. Every inch of the fabric is used but yet it has a filigree appearance. The pattern is cut out of the fabric using the idea of a jigsaw. The pieces of the pattern fit together perfectly but are attached slightly misplaced so that they don’t fit together, and so give the filigree effect.

This idea cuts down on wastage in the making process, however once the garment is discarded there is still the problem of the fabric not being bio-degradable, unless it can be combined with one of the other ideas.

 This exhibition definitely shows that there is a lot of good work being done to make a change for the better. Although disrupting the way the textiles industry works may be costly at first, something needs to happen to change the way we waste so many resources and pollute the world. All the ideas shown in Trash Fashion are inspiring and an essential area of research and development.