Today I went to Harrods to see the Green man in the flesh. I must not lie when I say this was a particularly underwhelming experience, as he didn’t even open the door for me..... In addition, I also went to another Harrods entrance where there wasn’t any green men at all... only security guards on the inside of the doors. I thought it was ironic to see customers struggling to push the door open themselves.
Walking around Harrods I was surprised at the sheer excess of everything, hundreds of handbags light up by bright lights and elevated on pedestals. The store was busier than I expected, but few people interacted with the items. Instead these luxury goods and status symbols are almost untouchable, guarded by smart staff members and security.
The interior was pristine, with high ceilings, spotless carpets which had been recently hoovered and clear lights. One large space incorporated Egyptian style decor, with coffered ceilings and pillars. I thought the food hall seemed similar to a hotel, as people could literally spend a whole day shopping and dining. I was aware that there seemed to be everything of anything, every fish or flavoured tea, hundreds of different cakes and chocolates - a medium size box of chocolates costing only £95.
Today I went to the library to research some ideas that are inspired by Harrods and the Green Man. After seeing so many handbags yesterday and even images of the green men holding customers bags, I decided to look at bags and trunks. Trunks derive from the revolution in trade, in which they were used as structures to contain goods. Baggage was handeled roughly I’m horse drawn carriages, boats and trains. People called upon a box maker to pack precious items and protect them from the hardships of travel.
Today customers can be seen with lots of shopping bags, to hold their purchases. I am interested in the idea of filling a bag or shopping basket to explore this idea of excess. After reading about Louis Vitton's “The birth of modern luxury” I felt more informed about cases and their iconic appearance - mostly leather with the signature monogram print, buckle details etc. I would like to explore using leather or materials that seem very similar to leather in my work in the future. I think that the stark juxtaposition of soft leather with hints of neon embelishment could look very exciting, creating a modern twist on a material that has been used for thousands of years.
I then looked at a variety of handbags and their different forms - I even found handbags in the shape of other objects e.g a crown or a car. I thought this duality was a particularly interesting example of excess as one luxury item is made to look like another luxury item. I looked at other expensive items such as hats, gloves and shoes - accessories that can be status symbols, as hats become decorated with pears and ostrich feathers.
Following I’m from the trunk idea I started to think about casing is a less literal way. The idea of a hard exterior, a protective outer layer. Still only at the start of the project I looked at quite a variety of images today trying to generate ideas. I thought of animals who have their shells on their back such as beetles and tortoises. These invertebrates have the skeleton on the outside, protecting their insides. This makes me think of protective clothing such as body suits and padded clothing - I am unsure if i will explore these ideas further.
Today I was able to start collaging my research together, by combing and recontextualising Images. Even though I haven’t yet explored combining different materials, layering and combining imagery is a form of manipulation. The first collage I did combines two men carrying a trunk help on long sticks. I thought this almost had a religious aura, as religious iconography is often carried upon the shoulders of a group of men in ceremonial rituals. By combining this image with a much larger bag the sense of scale is turned on its head. I thought this was effective because the bag the men stand on seems more like a large structure they could fit into theme selves. The idea of magnified bags relates well to my theme of excessive consumerism - and enlarged shapes relates well to the theme of excess.
Another thing I found successful, is the combination of old drawings from 19th century gentlemen with modern day fashion photography. By dissecting areas of his over coat I was able to highlight the bright, playful print of the urban casual wear. Something about the green man is similar to these gentleman figures, both wear smart hats and overcoats and seem to relate to ideals of honour. The old fashioned tradition of what it means to be a gentleman, seems contrasted against the the of material excess.
The main shape of my drawing is of the silhouette of the hand bag on its side. What is sucessful? I think the use of browns is effective, as it creates a visual relationship with the leather trunks. This relationship is strengthened by the subtle checkerboard pattern, similar to the Louis Vuitton print. The repetition of the hook shape, extracted from the side of the bag shape works well in the accetate beacuse it allows me to overlay and almost connect the shapes. This ehoes the bag itself, reinforcing my research.
Although it seems too early in the project to be making samples, today I made one naturally and I am pleased with the outcome. The shape is taken from a picture of an oldfashioned bonnet hat, sourced from Accessorize, 250 Objects of Fashion and Desire by the Rijks Museum, Amsterdam. This image appealed to me when I was looking at a variety of luxuary goods, and I was instantly drawn to its frill and unique ribbed texture created by the bands. Although this is not translated in my drawing, as i thought it would look too intricate I decided to highlight this frill in a bold way, creating more impact. The use of pink metallic foil hints at the idea of preciousness. The rough brown pencil marks have an almost hair like texture, relating to my research on the history of fur. I think these energetic marks create a nice variety against the photographic imagery of the polished jewellery.
The big beads are sourced from Treasures in Gold, Masterpieces of Jewelery From Antiquity to Modern times, by Gianni Guadalupi. Using the photocopier I was able to change thier colour from gold to red to suit my colour palette. Placed beneath my sample, their appearence is similar to the handel of a bag. The collage is mounted on lime green plastic, almost as if it is glowing. What is not as successful? The green plastic has a slight transparency which I have not exploited here, but aim to experiment with in another sample. Although red and green are complementary colours, there is the risk they emphasise the large darker shape, making it seem clusmy. I will aim to refine this balance of colour and solid and textured surfaces.
I started to make another sample, which has the same colour palette. This still remains unfinished, but incorporates the repetition of smiley face pills, which echo the pearl beads or rounded shapes of jewels. The use of smiley pills is inspired by artist Imbue's Pills, 112 Space, Birmingham – 2015 (Solo Show)https://imbuesource.com/about-imbue-artist/
The yellow smiley face is an icon we are all too familiar with especially since the use of emojis. I think it is very poignant that ectasy pills are created in the smiley face shape, as many negative themes are related to drugs: addiction, loss of control, depression, death. I think the repetition of smiley faces communicates the idea of excess well and makes the viewer question if all this materialsim is linked to happiness.
I find it very useful extracting shapes from the images I have researched, when taken out of context these shapes can be unrecognisable and used to create interesting patterns. Trace paper is the perfect tool to achieve this, not just to extract the shapes themselves, but to experiment with different placements of the shape, as trace paper allows you to flip and rotate the shape. When sitting down to work this morning, I felt rather uninspired and stuck. In a means to generate ideas, I returned to the collage work that I did yesterday, and traced over the overlapping bag inspired shapes, creating a single larger shape. This process of abstraction seemed quite random, and to my suprise, when rotated, this shape looked like the side profile similar to the green man! This accident really excited me, and I repeated the shape but decreased its scale to create more visual interest than repeating it at the same scale. I love the idea of graduated print, which I have seen in the work of Manish Arora.
In the afternoon, I created a new sample, creating a sewn path inspired by the drawing I did. What was successful? Using brown leather with neon stitch, as the dark ground emphasises the stitch, making it a feature. I combined this with my unfinshed sample I had started making the day before, and the merging of the two ideas improved both samples. I think the combination of materials with photographic imagery of jewellery, and the smiley faces like precious gems looks effective. How to move ideas further? I used materials I had scraps of, but over the weekend I hope to buy some new fabrics - gather more resources. I definately want to explore using the smiley faces in more uncoventional ways.
Today has not been a productive day in terms of research or making, but more of a reflective day. After researching Vivienne Westwood's political solgans on her T shirts, and the anti fur protesters poster, I am starting to consider incorporating random snippets of text into the prints of my own work. I think this will complement my work, because as a consumer we are exposed to adverts everyday, telling us to buy the lastest items. I have always thought the langauge used for advertising is rather strange and agressive, as sentences are reduced to key words 'BUY NOW', 'BEANZ MEANZ HEINZ' 'DREAM BIGGER'. This poses the next question, what would my words/slogans say? Below I noted down some rather silly, meaningless ideas which relate to my research, some might have an ironic tone.
- Hairy Delight
- Extra fat baggy
- Smiley Potatoes
- Diamonds for everyone :)
- More More More
- Leather Man
Today I went to V&A to see the current exhibition 'Ocean Liners: Speed and Style', as I was aware this had some Louis Vuitton trunks in it, and explored themes of luxuary and travel. I enjoyed the exhibition, as before hand I was not aware of the signifcance of ocean liners. Although less prominant today, ocean liners remian one of the most admired symbols of modernity. Trunks and ways of storage would have been a large part of life onboard, as there was limited space, and people were want to take items from home with them when they travel. The exhibition certainly explored the theme of excess, as Ocean liners competed for customers and the interiors were similar to that of a hotel. All this excess seemed to be too much, causing the Titanic to sink in 1912.
In the afternoon I bought some fabrics that interest me, this includes: a metallic pink cloth, geometric textured brown table grip, faux brown leather, pinky red smooth and matt fake leather and karki cotten. I am really excited to start experimenting with these materials, and have conciously chosen a few different leather like mateirals inspired by the trunks I have been researching. Techniques I aim to use; cutting, stitching into, tying, layering and joining. I also bought some very small beads, the colours really inspired me but they only came in a small size - I think their small scale will make thier application very labour intensive.
In the evening I drew my first fashion drawings for this project - some of the ideas are very unresolved, and it was more as a means to get my ideas down on paper. I tried to make the garments more focused around the idea of storage, however, i found this restrictive and forced. In order to advace my work further, I aim to explore extensions of the body more. My work is also more print orientated, and I can find this difficult to conevy in fashion drawings. In order to give my project more momentum, now is the time to start creating and make a variety of smaples. Then I can experiment with the clothes design after, placing the samples on the body.
Combining unit 7 with the Harrods project is causing conflict. I now feel like my problem solving skills are being tested, pushing me to consider a range of ideas which is positive. In order for these ideas to develop, I need to stop overthinking! The harrods project has given me the opportunity to explore the idea in my project proposal of luxury goods, and the perception of personal treasure. I have explored treasure in quite a physical and materialistic way, looking at bags and pockets which contain 'things'. However, these 'things' do not have to be valauble to everyone, and I now aim to combine this with more conceptual ideas of what we value as individuals.
I have rushed into translating these ideas on the body. I now need to take a step back and explore the shapes I have developed from abstract bag drawings, and scale them up onto the body. This will develop a more organic response to silhouette development. I also aim to develop personal jewels, additions and hidden elements to be a more abstract and less literal interpretation on the figure.