Tag Archives: artist research

Project 4: Research ~ Mary Katrantzou

Having read the review in Vogue Runway; Mary Katrantzou Fall 2011 by Sarah Mower, I found and listened to Mary Katrantzou’s TedxAthens 2012 Talk; Challenge yourself to define your limits (see video below).

 

Whilst she talks at length about philosophical and practical limits which she fought to against to develop herself and her brand she also touches upon key interests and theme’s within her work. Mary Katrantzou was born in Athens, and initially began her creative journey by studying towards a BA in Architecture at Rhode Island School of Design. She transferred part way through to Central Saint Martins to complete a BA in Textile Design. Following on from this she graduated in MA Fashion from Central Saint Martins being awarded distinction.

Her MA collection featured printed dresses which played with tromp d’oeil  jewellery. It was this collection that really helped her to marry together ides of shape and print in creating strong designs with an element of visual illusion or trickery. There’s an interesting interview with her after the MA show with fashion magazine Dazed – Mary Katrantzou Does Pretty Robots by Alexa Hall.

Dresses from MA Graduation Collection 2008 Mary Katrantzou.

Dresses from MA Graduation Collection 2008 Mary Katrantzou.

Katrantzou taught herself how to use photo-shop to apply digital patterns initially to interiors and subsequently onto female clothing.See’s her practice as a marrying of the theoretical and a practical approach to fashion. It’s clear from her Ted talk that she’s driven to test and push boundaries in print and textiles. With each collection her technical expertise develops and she pushes herself into different avenues, not just pursuing print design but thinking about new shapes and approaches to women’s wear.

Her Fall 2011 RTW collection was a critical success and in another Vogue Review by Tim Blanks talks about the collection being about ‘the woman in the room’ as opposed to ‘the room on the woman’. I think this is referring to the collection having a greater focus on how textiles are used, in terms of shape and drape on the female figure as opposed to the garment simply being another surface (much like any interior surface) on which to place a print. I think the collection marked a significant turning point for Katrantzou away from interior design to women’s wear/fashion design.

Mary katrantzou Fall 2011 RTW Look 6 Photo Yannis Vlamos.

Mary Katrantzou Fall 2011 RTW Look 6 Photo Yannis Vlamos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look 22 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2011 RTW Photo by Yannis Vlamos.

Look 22 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2011 RTW Photo by Yannis Vlamos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s clear looking at her collections since 2008 and 2011 Katrantzou is not a one trick pony, her drive to push the boundaries of print and her own understanding of how fashion works on the female form is consistently evident.

Her Spring 2016 RTW & Fall 2016 RTW collections are an example in point;

Look 1 from Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou Photo Yannis Vlamos.

Look 1 from Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou Photo Yannis Vlamos.

On the dress opposite embellishment and sequins are used to from pattern rather than digital printing methods. The silhouette and shape of the outfit are much more streamlined, sophisticated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look 22 Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou Photo Yannis Vlamos.

Look 22 Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou Photo Yannis Vlamos.

On the maroon coloured dress opposite texture, colour and shape become the dominant features (and print is unseen). A much heavier weighted material gives the dress a different drape than in previous outfits, showing an understanding of different fabrics.

The texture appears to be created almost by way of quilting or embossing a pattern onto the surface of the fabric. The solid single block of colour on the dress also marks a departure from the bold multi coloured dresses of Katrantzou’s previous collections.

 

 

 

In The Vogue Review of Spring 2016 RTW Mary Katrantzou by Sarah Mower, speaks of Katrantzou’s versatility; “in her intelligent way, senses the danger of being boxed into a trend. In this outing she also showed she can take on the challenge of proving she’s able to design without print, without colour and without embroidery or texture…Compared with the clothes she was making when she came out of CSM, this collection bore almost no relation stylistically.”

 

Look 22 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW Photo Kim Weston Arnold.

Look 22 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW Photo Kim Weston Arnold.

Print was more of a feature in her Fall RTW 2016 collection. However prints where taken to new levels in combination with other textile techniques. In the dress opposite print is married with embellishment in the form of sequins and new form is considered in the shape of a shirt dress.

The cut away details of the shoulders is also a different consideration of shape or form against the female figure.

 

 

 

 

Look 29 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW photo Kim Weston Arnold.

Look 29 Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW photo Kim Weston Arnold.

In the design left, print and pattern are boldly applied to the surface of a (presumably fake) fur coat. The shift onto the form of the coat represents a step into considering other garment shapes beyond dresses for Katrantzou. It also represent’s her continued experimentation with different kinds of fabrics and textiles in women’s fashion.

The colours of the print are vivid but the shapes are kept simpler, fitting with the simpler outline or silhouette of the coat.

 

 

 

 

Look from Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW Photo Kim Weston Arnold.

Look from Mary Katrantzou Fall 2016 RTW Photo Kim Weston Arnold.

In the dress opposite the scale of print used is much smaller and subtler fitting with the lightness and drape of the fabric it’s printed on. I think here there’s an example of playing with volume, by using a lighter almost crepe fabric and pleating the skirt sits further away from the body.

It’s also a much more restrained colour palette than in previous garments or collections.

 

 

 

 

 

My final finding from research was an video of a conversation between Mary Katrantzou and Alexander Fury (then fashion editor of The Independent). They discuss her AW 2013 collection, but more revealingly she elaborates on her approach to designing women’s wear. To me it’s clear she’s interested in textiles, the treatment of fabrics, through print or embellishment, or distressing or pattern, and then secondly is interested in shape, how a fabric can be used on the female form.

 

Research- Christian Boltanski’s Personnes

Christian Boltanski’s Personnes Exhibition 2010:

Personnes Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photo by Didier Plowy, Monumenta MCC.

Personnes Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photo by Didier Plowy, Monumenta MCC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clothes close up from; Personnes Exhibition, The Grand Palais, Paris 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photograph by Didier Plowy Monumenta MCC.

Clothes close up from; Personnes Exhibition, The Grand Palais, Paris 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photograph by Didier Plowy Monumenta MCC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ART or DESIGN

TEMPORARY or PERMANENT

LARGE SCALE or SMALL SCALE

TRANSFORMING and/or DEFINING and/or FORMING

IMMERSIVE and/or DISTANT

PATTERN and/or COLOUR and/or REPETITION and/or SHAPE

In addition to reading Laura Cumming’s review in The Guardian Online; Christian Boltanski: Personnes, 17 Jan 2010 I watched Tateshots: Christian Boltanski  and Vernissage TV’s Interview; Christian Boltanski in conversation with Christophe Ecoffet 2010. 

The noise of heartbeats permeates the exhibition, why do you think that may be?

Partly I think it’s to make the exhibition an even more immersive experience; not only are you seeing things which are fragments of peoples lives, in the clothes on the floor, but you’re hearing the sound of a human heartbeat as you walk around. Boltanski himself (in the Vernissage video above), says he ‘collects’ heartbeat’s, that you can ‘preserve the heartbeat but you can’t preserve the person’. To me this suggests it’s a way of reinforcing the idea of impermanence and human mortality, a heartbeat is a unique thing in every individual which can only be heard when the person is alive. It has an odd effect of acting as a memento mori.

To what extent are the textiles transformed into something other than fabric?

The clothes as suggested by Laura Cumming in the guardian really becoming a metaphor for human life. Their clinical, square formation is suggestive of the organised coldness and brutality of the destruction of human life in Nazi Concentration Camps. Perhaps today the clothes remind us of the refuge crisis, of countless numbers of people struggling to and sometimes not managing to survive.

What’s the significance of the installation title – and of the mechanical grabber?

The word ‘personnes’ has a dual meaning in french –  ‘people’ and ‘nobodies’ – it perfectly frames the exhibition, with it’s contents so rich with cultural and visual connotation but so absent of actual human identification – the people alluded to by the clothing and the numbered biscuit tins are never identified by name or face or ethnicity, they remain anonymous.

The significance of the mechanical grabber – the mechanical grabber according to Boltanski is to represent the ‘element of chance’ or ‘the finger of God’ that one moment you can be alive, and the next you could be dead, without having any control over when or how that happens. I see associate the mechanical grabber and the mound of clothing more with human waste, again another trace of human existence. But also with issues of sustainability and our throw-away culture. But the idea of consumerism/waste issues is kind of dismissed by the arrangement of the clothes and the rusted poles/neon lights which create a path towards the mechanical grabber.

What associations does this work conjure up in your mind?

The first association that came to mind was the holocaust, and the remains of people, items of clothing, shoes, that were left behind by those killed by the Nazi’s during that period in history. I’ve never been to the holocaust museum but I’ve heard part of what remains there are big piles or displays of shoes and belongings of those who were in concentration camps.

The wall of biscuit tins with numbers at the entrance to the main exhibit also brings up associations with genocide or mass murder, the de-humanisation of people, reducing them to clinical cold numbers. The rusting poles and white neon lights, again have an industrial or cold feel to them, a visual reminded to the aesthetic of a lab or a warehouse, for me it reinforces that idea of people being ill treated or worse. The mechanical and methodical action of the grabber lifting and dropping the clothes brings to mind a sense of detachment and randomness. The machine is unfeeling – it has no ability to consider human life etc.

The sound of the heartbeats – heard as unique sounds by each square of clothing and as a mass in one unified beat which fills the hall, are suddenly eerie in this context. A heartbeat could be a sound that brings Joy – the sound of an unborn baby, a sign of life, or the closeness of someone, but in this context it’s a memento mori, a sad sound which reminds the listener of the inevitability of death.

Further reading on the artist Christian Boltanski: Grove Art Online Biography. 

Project 3: Research ~ Yayoi Kusama, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec & Marianne Straub

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrored Room 1998

Yayoi Kusama; Infinity Mirrored Room,1998 Les Arbattoirs, Toulouse - Photo: Jean- Luc Auriol.

Yayoi Kusama; Infinity Mirrored Room,1998 Les Arbattoirs, Toulouse – Photo: Jean- Luc Auriol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art or Design

Temporary or Permanent

Large Scale or Small Scale

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

Immersive and/or Distant

Pattern and or/Colour/and or Repetition/and or Shape

I found some further examples of her work, which also feature repeated shapes, forms, colour, across a variety of surfaces on the Patternity site. 

She works across multiple surfaces, applying her dots in various scales and colours, to plastic forms such as Pumpkins, onto fabrics in collaboration with designers (namely Louis Vuitton) and using mirrors to create an illusion of infinite repetition of these forms.

 

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Clouds

Multiple forms and colour combinations; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

Multiple forms and colour combinations; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art or Design

Connecting tiles for; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

Connecting tiles for; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

I wasn’t sure at first how to characterise the ‘clouds’, on the one hand they were produced from a designers perspective, looking for a solution to our increasingly cold, white environments. But on the other hand the end result is akin to art work and has an individualistic or unique element; the client can make any form or shape they want out of 11 different coloured fabric tiles. It feels to me like design for a creative or artistic end result.

 

Temporary or Permanent

Again this is a tricky choice – the fact that the tiles can be disconnected and reconnected any number of times gives the forms a temporary feel. But these clouds could remain in one household or office for the long-term, even permanently.

Large Scale or Small Scale

I’ve selected both scales, because the forms are able to be made to whatever size is desired.

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

 

Smaller version; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

Smaller version; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

On their website the designers describe the clouds as having ‘significant impact on our rooms’. They also say it’s the culmination of research about ‘reintroducing the textile element into our environment to make it warm and calm’. To me, those statements sound like the aim of the textiles is to transform or enhance whatever environment they’re put into.

The ‘clouds’ themselves have an organic nature, in that they can be ‘transformed’ by adding or removing more tiles.

 

 

 

Immersive and/or Distant

Absolutely Immersive – these are tactile soft to the touch, meant for adding colour, warmth, life to an area.

Pattern and or/Colour/and or Repetition/and or Shape

I guess I could’ve highlighted all of the categories above (pattern could be created using the tile shapes and colour variations).

Here’s a link to a video in which Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec talk about use of the cloud tiles to divide or adapt spaces:

 

 

Marianne Straub: Moquette textile 1970

Moquette Fabric in use on Bus.

Moquette Fabric in use on Bus.

Art or Design

Temporary or Permanent

Large Scale or Small Scale

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

Immersive and/or Distant

Pattern and or/Colour/and or Repetition/and or Shape

 

 

'Straub' Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

‘Straub’ Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

Straub Moquette textile in picadily carriage opened by queen Photographed by LT, 16 December 1977

‘Straub’ Moquette textile in use in Interior of Piccadilly line carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen, Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

 

 

Project 3: Research ~ Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Surrounded Islands Project:

Christo and Jeanne-Calude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I agree in part with the analysis of surrounded islands as ‘textiles used on an extremely large scale to both define and cover aspects of the natural environment, in this case two islands’. It’s hard to disagree with the scale, but I’m not 100% sure I can see what the aim of this was. To me the bright pink colour is a clash with the natural landscape, this clash brings attention to the natural form of the islands, the shapes of the fabric around the islands also serve to make clear the natural form of the islands. The fabric also acts as a cover over the waters around the island and makes access to them harder. Perhaps an unintentional benefit of the project was the clean up involved on the islands in preparation, apparently some forty tonnes of waste was gathered from across eleven islands in the bay!

It’s interesting to me also to consider why use textiles for this, they clearly state the the surroundings were made from ‘Woven Polypropylene’ a man made fibre, not plastic.

Art or Design

I think this work is an art work or piece rather than a design piece, as it wasn’t created for function or to help achieve a purpose or goal but rather as a project to highlight the islands and make a spectacle of them. According to their website the islands were ‘a work of art underlining the various elements and ways in which the people of Miami live between land and water’.

Temporary or Permanent

This was a temporary piece – the pink fabric surrounded the islands for a duration of two weeks before being removed.

Large Scale or Small Scale

Given that in the photographs the surrounding pink fabric can be seen from the air, I’d say the piece was of a large scale.

Christo and Jeanne-Calude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Christo and Jeanne-Calude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

In our workbook the characteristic highlighted was ‘defining’ – I agree with this but I also think the piece is trans-formative. I think this is because it takes the islands from obscurity, to becoming a focal point or destination (at least for the duration of the piece), which is a trans- formative act.

Immersive and/or Distant

I agree these are distant – they had to travelled to by boat from the bay area, so they weren’t easily reachable or touchable.

Pattern and/or Colour and/or Repetition and/or Shape

Christo and Jeanne-Calude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude; Surrounded Islands, Biscayne Bay, Greater Miami, Florida 1980-83. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colour wasn’t highlighted as a characteristic in our workbooks, which I find odd! The vibrancy of the pink fabric I think it a key part of the piece, if it had been a blue, say in keeping with the water the art works wouldn’t have been nearly so defining or as visible from a distance.

 

Wrapped Trees Project:

Construction view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Construction view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art or Design

Temporary or Permanent

Large Scale or Small Scale

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

Immersive and/or Distant

Pattern and/or Colour and/or Repetition and/or Shape

Considering the work from the point of view of the textile rather than the tree is harder than I imagined. The fabric used looks so fragile and light, in some of the photographs it looks like bin liners (they have an transparency). In the photograph below the quality of the fabric as semi-sheer enables for the forms inside, the lines of the branches to still be visible;

Translucent view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Translucent view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

The fabric in the photograph left seems to have a ballooning effect, the tree’s become almost cartoon shaped at the edges (at least that’s what I see in it).

The fabric here is confusing – is it there to protect and envelope or to cover and distort? I guess protect, because the fabric used is the same kind used ‘every winter in Japan to protect trees from heavy snow’.

 

 

Sunny view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Sunny view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

In the sunlight the fabric has a sheen, an almost metallic quality, which makes the forms seem more fantastical or unreal to me. It really reminds me of something you might expect to see in an illustration or children’s cartoon which features trees or forms from another planet. I think that’s partly the metallic quality but also the sections of shape created by the ropes around the fabric.

 

 

Winter view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

Winter view of Christo and Jeanne Claude;Wrapped Trees, Foundation Beyeler and Berower Park, Riehen, Switzerland, 1997-98. Photo: Wolfgang Volz.

In the snow the fabric becomes a platform or base for the wider settling of snow on top of the trees. This again alters the shape or highlights different angles or facets of the wrapped trees.

 

 

Finally here’s a link to a YouTube video from Vernissage TV; Christo and Jeanne-Claude (Interview with Christo), in which he discussed “Wrapped Trees” :

Project 2: Research ~ Ptolemy Mann

For this task I have been asked to research a designer/artist/maker whose work I am drawn to and consider the following questions. I’ve chosen to look more closely at the work of Ptolemy Mann.

What is their craft and how do they approach their work?

Ptolemy Mann is a textile artist and designer, whose craft is primarily weaving. She is a highly skilled hand weaver and so some of her work, commissions, is made by herself at a loom. Her textile work reveal she is an “expert at creating a broad spectrum of vibrant colours in a single design, she is known for her painterly approach” (p.172, Textile Visionaries by Bradley Quinn).

 

Circle #10, 2011, textile artwork woven by Ptolemy Mann.

Circle #10, 2011, textile artwork woven by Ptolemy Mann.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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