Monday, 20 October 2014

Exhibition work and my attempt at a shabby chic effect frame!

Apologies for the lack of posts this month, I've been extremely(massive understatement) stressed about the exhibitions I'm doing which both start this month. As I write this I am currently sat in my lovely dishevelled room in Clapton pond attempting a shabby chic effect on some picture frames for the Parallax Art fair event in Chelsea town hall. It's not going too well at this stage so I'm giving myself a time out while I, quite literally, wait for paint to dry...

I obviously decided I didn't have enough work to do and being the thrifty/tight pursed person I am decided to source my frames from local charity shops to reduce the price. A good idea in theory  but apparently getting something to look sufficiently old and weathered is harder than I had anticipated. 

Anyway in the process of attempting this I came across a really helpful blog post that I want to share with you all as it's really helped me out today

As you can see from the below photos I am surrounded by tealights...romantic night in is the general assumption here- no such luck...I am waiting for the wax to melt so I can use it on the frames..standard weekday evening activity!

Along with the above tea light/framing attempt photos I'e included some images of the pieces I'm working on for the Parallax art fair. As you can see none of them are finished...apparently I am a very last minute person!

Here are some photos of my current exhibition in Arteria in Lancaster- I'm so pleased with how they look in situ!The team at Arteria have done a really good job of organising the gallery space and everything seems to flow together beautifully.

Horatio the hare made it onto the winter shopping day invite!

I've also included a link to the Parallax Art fair( which runs this Friday 24th and Saturday 25th at Chelsea Town hall where I will be displaying further which I have two days to finish!

Anyway best crack on with my attempt at shabby chic framing! I'll let you know how it goes this weekend!

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Inspiration or exploitation- where are the boundaries?

Recently I was invited, as a plus one, to an Eritrean wedding. I was extremely excited at the prospect of going to my first African wedding and having the opportunity to experience a different culture with a particular interest in the traditional dress the people attending would be wearing. 

Details from Eritrean embroidery

As many people do, I had a preconceived idea of what this traditional dress might look like. In my ignorance I was expecting a riot of bold colours and overwhelming clashing patterns, what I found, however, was somewhat different. The Eritrean traditional dress is loose fitting and predominantly white with a strip of colourful patterned embroidery towards the bottom, extremely understated and demure in comparison to my expectations.

 I was taken aback by how much the recent Autumn/Winter 2014 Valentino collection had taken inspiration from the embroidered patterns I had seen at the wedding. 

Valentino Autumn/Winter 2014
Seeing this type of design in its traditional form(not being paraded down a runway on an extortionately priced garment) got me thinking about how high end designers source their inspiration. Is stealing the native designs from a poorer community exploitation or just a natural consequence of globalisation? Should these communities be receiving some of the profits...or at least some recognition for their designs? There is a very fine line between using someone's artwork as inspiration and imitating it to create a replica. Where do we draw the line to separate design inspiration from exploitation?

In one of the WGSN trend seminars I attended at Premiere Vision, the painted mud huts of the Ndebele tribe in South Africa were referenced as being a key point of design inspiration for the WGSN confluence trend for Autumn/Winter 2015(I will be doing several blog posts on the WGSN trend seminars I attended at PV over the coming weeks).

Ndebele tribe designs

Although WGSN has referenced the tribe where these designs originated, you can guarantee that the suppliers and high street stores that follow this trend will imitate the artworks without accrediting the design source. 

This same tribe(the Ndebele tribe) was also used to inspire Mara Hoffman's early work(see below) and has been featured in Topshop and on other various garments and footwear. Even Kim Kardashian has been photographed wearing a Ndebele inspired print, I'm pretty sure we can accurately guess that she has no idea where the pattern she wears in the below photo originated.

 I can't help but question how fair it is that the artwork of these communities is being used repeatedly without them being aware or receiving any of the profits. Surely something should be done to protect their designs?Or if something is already being done maybe more awareness should be raised? 

I guess part of the problem when protecting the intellectual property and traditional crafts of a tribe/specific culture is how to differentiate between the work of an individual and the work of a community. Namboniso Gasa, a researcher and analyst of gender, politics and cultural issue(quoted here: ) believes that,

 indigenous cultures all over the world are not insular; they influence each other...It's not necessarily the same as exploitation. A law might limit and suffocate artists in their particular creative genre."

This is a very valid point- copyright legislation is so extreme, particularly in the US, that it inhibits creativity. In my opinion we should be able to draw on a wide variety of sources across various cultures, religions and contexts without feeling constrained by copyright laws. This being said, I strongly feel that for high end designers, like the aforementioned Valentino and Hoffman, it should be mandatory to state the sources of their inspiration. Although this is not direct exploitation, it can lead to design source ignorance which I think we need to put a stop to. If you work in design, print in particular, know your sources!!! 

I experienced an infuriating example of design source ignorance several weeks ago. A buyer, from a company I shall not name(as I don't really buy into public humiliation), sent me a moodboard of inspirational images for their new collection. The moodboard trend was titled 'Latin style'....the prints used as inspiration,however, were all dutch wax prints/African ankara fabric. A typical example of design source ignorance- not only are Latin America and Africa on completely different continents, they also use completely different prints and design styles. 

In my opinion, high end designers should lead by example and state their sources. Instead of claiming that all prints are 'ethnic' they should give credit to the original design sources.

If anyone is aware of any organisations that aim to protect traditional artworks and creativity please let me know as I would be really interested in doing a follow up blog post on this!

Debut exhibition at Arteria gallery in Lancaster

For those of you who don't follow me on Instagram ( or on facebook( you won't have seen the epic amount of illustration related spamming I have been doing in the lead up to my debut exhibition. The exhibition starts on October 9th at the Arteria gallery in Lancaster ( and and continues until January 2015. 

Arteria gallery exhibition invite

Here are the framed images I submitted...

I'm actually really impressed with how the framed pieces look #humblebrag as I'm so used to seeing them as scraps of cartridge paper on my bedroom floor. I got the frames from habitat and, although they were a bit more pricey than I had originally intended(£20 each) I'm really happy with the way the white frame looks against the black mount.

Here are the individual illustrations and some close up shots of the details...

I'm also working on some work for the Parallax exhibition in Chelsea town hall which is taking place on the last weekend in October- . The date is looming and I have yet to actually start any work which, if I'm completely honest, kind of worries me. 

On that note I should probably go and actually do some sketching, I'll be doing some more posts soon with updates on what I've decided to work on :)