when art & fashion collide {hirst meets mcqueen}…

mcqueen & hirst

is this not the most perfect pairing?

it’s always a beautiful thing when the line between art & fashion blurs, but never more so than with this entomologist’s dream: a series of limited edition pieces celebrating the 10th anniversary of the covetable mcqueen skull scarf

bugs & butterflies & other beasties combine to form “kaleidoscopic geometric shapes”…

too beautiful to wear, this is most definitely one for my walls…

 

image via: alexander mcqueen

in my home {caroline swift}…

whilst giving our decor a bit of a refresh recently, it became readily apparent to me how much ‘stuff’ i have accumulated…

& so was born the notion of a nifty column idea…

so today here’s the first of my in my home series where, from time-to-time, i’ll share with you a few of the truly delectable pieces i’ve found in my wanderings through the world of design & which have actually made it home with me…

i’d like to kick the series off with the work of ceramicist caroline swift

caroline swift_large spoons

i’ve always had a fascination with porcelain: the fact that it’s so fragile in appearance & yet so surprisingly robust…

add to this its simplistic beauty, the sculptural forms it lends itself to & the way it interplays with light & it’s one of my favourite decorative finishes…

caroline’s work showcases all of these aspects beautifully…

caroline swift_vase

a former knitwear designer for benetton, caroline now works her magic predominantly with unglazed porcelain {best for showcasing its inherent beauty}…

her range includes delicate vases etched with poetry…

caroline swift_spoons

perfectly-formed porcelain spoons {too good to use}…

caroline swift_bowl

& sweet, organically-shaped bowls…

& the thing i love almost as much as the individual pieces themselves is the way caroline’s work is presented: delicate artworks perched atop neat rows of iron nails, their smooth & crisp contours juxtaposed against a distinctly industrial backdrop…

it’s a look i instantly want to replicate in my own home…

caroline swift_porcelain leaves

i am the proud owner of a strand of caroline’s porcelain leaves…

not only are they beautiful to look at, but they make the most magical tinkling sound whenever the breeze hits them…

& though i’m yet to find the perfect spot to house them in my current abode, in my new home there’ll be a suitably rustic backdrop dedicated solely to showcasing their splendour…

images via: caroline swift

feeling blue {with a little help from my ‘friends’}…

i’m not sure if it’s the glum weather, the one million & 652 kerthousandth iteration of a lurgy i’m currently carrying around with me or the fact that i have actual deadlines that need to be met, but today i just feel like giving the whole house a going over…

you know the kind, where you pool everything into the middle of a room, give it a good ol’ shake about & then see where it lands?

yeah, that kind! {statements like this usually make my boyfriend’s eyes roll in his head so furiously i fear he’s about to pass out!}…

if i can muster up the energy i’ll take my inspiration from some of my most favouritest australian stylists ever whose work i can’t help but keep coming back to…

megan morton

megan morton

glen proebstel

glen proebstel

shannon fricke

& shannon fricke

this most definitely looks like it’s gonna be a blue day, right?

a taste of india {paola navone}…

if i haven’t already covered my love for designer paola navone in my style loving series {here, here, here & here}, then i seriously need to…

because i do…

here’s a quick look at some of my picks from paola’s new range at anthropologie {sadly it looks like this is currently only available in the usa stores at the moment}

paola navone

paola navone_01

& for those of you who know absolutely nothing about ms navone & this line, here’s anthro’s blurb:

“italian artist paola navone emerged from the male-dominated design industry of the 1980s to become one of the first female pioneers of avant-garde style. in her latest collection, navone brings the beauty and richness of india to life through beyond-bright hues, playful shapes and her signature unbridled spirit”

images via: anthropologie

a little piece of home {new art}…

last saturday i finally persuaded my other half to accompany me to pick up some artwork which i’d long-since dropped off for framing…

we picked up two pieces, one of which i thought i’d share with you today…

a nomadic abode

this piece, entitled bush medicine dreaming by aboriginal artist jeannie petyarre, was a birthday present from my mum…

i’d be lying if i claimed to be even notionally educated in the nuances of aboriginal art {though i did find this article interesting}: like anything else, i simply buy what i love…

a nomadic abode

& i love this…

but aboriginal art wasn’t always my thing…

growing up in brisbane in the 70s & 80s {ie, long before the internet}, aboriginal artwork for me meant one of two things: either cave art in bold, earthy colours depicting scenes of daily life {eg, hunting, etc}, or brightly-painted native animals &/or landscapes adorning boomerangs, didgeridoos, teatowels, ashtrays & other such touristic souvenirs…

both well & good, just not my cup of tea…

but then, many years later, my whole perspective changed…

i came across an article in an interiors magazine where the home owner had installed a giant black & white aboriginal painting into his seaside home…

i remember it distinctly: there was such simplicity in the individual brush strokes & yet combined they made the whole canvas come alive with an energy & sense of movement akin to a swathe of fabric billowing back & forth in a gentle breeze…

i never knew this genre of artwork could be so subtle & yet so powerful: i was mesmerised & vowed to one day track down something similar…

& eventually i did: hailing from the utopia region in central australia, jeannie petyarre‘s paintings primarily focus around a variety of local leaves used in traditional bush medicines…

her work is both simple & striking & captures the very essence of everything i loved about that first black & white canvas i fell in love with all those years ago…

a nomadic abode

as my canvas is relatively small {only 60cm x 60cm}, i decided to give it a little more presence {& simultaneously protect it from the inevitable deluge of knocks, drops & beatings it will have to endure in my home} & had it framed in a tray setting…

the original canvas is stretched around a wooden frame & this, in turn, is then mounted inside a second, outer frame: a small gutter {approx. 1-2cm} between the canvas and outer wooden frame gives the appearance that the artwork is actually floating inside…

one day i hope to add to my budding collection of aboriginal art, but for now this canvas has already been elevated to one of my favourite pieces in our home…

well worth the wait!

the currency of art {justine smith}…

i’ve been busy today working my way through mounds of washing & packing for my flight home tomorrow…

& as i was going through my pre-trip mantra {keys, passport, money} it became quickly apparent that i had everything on my list, except the latter…

not a single aussie dollar to be found amongst my stash of foreign notes which seems to grow year-on-year {just not in value!}…

& just as i was pondering what to do with all this pretty paper, the universe spoke to me via a well-timed email about an exhibition of “extraordinary artworks made from ordinary currency”…

thank you universe…

the ‘love me tender’ exhibition {at the bellevue arts museum in washington} features various artists whose work is inspired by the symbolism & power of money…

& right alongside the works of banksy & jsg boggs is that of local london lass justine smith

justine smith_butterflies

justine is an artist whose work i’ve long admired ever since her cutout butterfly pieces were featured in livingetc back in the day {circa 2006}…

& whilst paper has always been central to her art, justine’s current work is focussed around cold, hard cash & how it permeates our lives…

“through her collages, prints and sculptures she examines our relationship with money in a political, moral and social sense, whilst also exploiting the physical beauty of the notes”

justine smith_flowers

you may well have already seen justine’s elaborate floral sculptures before…

they truly are stunning…

justine smith_weapons of war

or her powerful portrayal of currency as an instrument of war & a conduit of power…

clever, clever, clever…

justine smith_house of cards

but you may not be familiar with her latest work, “house of cards” which forms the centre peice of yet another exhibition, “bubbles and bankruptcy: financial crises in britain since 1700” currently on display at the british museum

justine’s beautiful & poignant work certainly makes me look at my humble stash of cash with fresh eyes…

{p.s. justine’s prints will also be on show at the affordable art fair being held at battersea from march 7th to 10th, 2013}

images via: justine smith

the master of couture {valentino}…

valentino exhibition roses

a sweep of red cloth cascades down the centre of the stamp stairs at somerset house & pools gently on the floor below…

it signals your imminent arrival: hang a right at the bottom of the stairwell & slip outside the main doors & you can’t miss it, a pristine white wall with the words ‘valentino master of couture‘ emblazoned across it in large red bespoke typeface: & so it begins…

50 years in the making, this exhibition showcases the legacy of a master of his craft…

for any badge-wearing fashion lover {& equally anybody interested in styling & staging}, this meticulously curated show is a must see as, like it’s subject, it reads like a lesson in refinement & attention to detail…

once inside, white walls, dimmed lighting & sparse furnishings mean there’s very little to detract from the exhibits themselves…

similarly striking are the hushed tones in which onlookers converse: a reverence normally reserved for places of worship…

i’m immediately drawn to the far end of the exhibit space where images are being projected onto an oversized sculpture of a rose, valentino garavani’s emblem, which dominates the back wall…

beneath this, & lining the surrounding walls in orderly single file, sit neat rows of balloon-back salon chairs…

valentino_master of couture

resplendent in white upholstery, the chairs are anchored to the walls at waist height & hold a series of glass display cabinets within which various pieces of ephemera are displayed: photos, invitations & letters all from valentino’s private collection…

but these exhibits don’t hold my attention for long…

instead, i soon join a small crowd surrounding the case wherein valentino’s hand-drawn sketches are housed…

some of these drawings are like works of art in their own right created by a seemingly singular flourish of their maker’s pen, whilst others are a little more obscure: all are stamped “valentino” as if to mark their pedigree…

on the walls overhead a timeline maps out a formidable career & i’m heartened to learn it took nine years for valentino to hone his craft before venturing out alone: respect is due!

a metal & glass staircase leads you upstairs to the exhibition’s real drawcard: a carefully-curated selection of more than 130 haute couture designs spanning five decades…

of course there’s the now iconic oscar dress donned by julia roberts {you know the one}, jaqueline kennedy’s wedding dress for her marriage to aristotle onassis & various other collaborations of tulle, sequins, crepe, organza & georgette as befits the formalities of life as an empress, first lady or movie star…

but a nice twist on proceedings is the fact that it’s us, the audience, who must sashay down a 60 metre catwalk in order to observe the collection…

valentino_master of couture

flanking the runway, colour-coded mannequins displaying the dresses are interspersed among more neat rows of white salon chairs…

calligraphied placecards showcasing the names of valentino’s illustrious clientele add a personalised touch…

perhaps in a nod to the timelessness of the designs, the outfits are not ordered chronologically, but instead they’re clustered in groupings with the colour of the mannequin denoting the era of the piece it’s dressed in {mint indicates a 1950s design, mustard for the 60s & so on}…

whilst i concede a lot of these outfits aren’t to my personal taste {they were made neither for my waistline nor my lifestyle}, it is nonetheless impossible to not recognise genius when surrounded by it…

i did a couple of laps of the catwalk & then headed back down a flight of steps to take in the final displays, my undisputed favourite of which was the atelier…

this exhibit showcases the workings of the generally unsung heroes of couture, le regarre {the girls}: these are the women who painstakingly bring the designer’s vision to life, one deftly-executed hand stitch at a time…

this is where the magic happens…

a large square upholstered plinth fills the centre of this space & inset around its perimeter are a series of glass boxes within which rests a sampler of various stitching techniques unique to valentino’s atelier…

valentino_pagine

a ‘tappeto do ruches’ sits alongside organza disks known as ‘pagine’, so called because of their resemblance to the pages of a book…

in another case, lengths of silk and nylon tulle are fashioned into flouncy rose formations…

terms like ‘incrostazioni’, ‘nervature’, ‘drappeggi’ & ‘budellini’ swim off the patternmaking paper they are printed on & dance around my head in a sing song fashion…

i am mesmerised…

also inset amongst the display cases are a row of tv screens playing video on loop…

here we’re able to watch the nimble fingers of the girls working the folds of material to create the samples we see on display around us: pin, tuck, pin, fold, snip, snip, snip!

they attack their work with a ferocity, precision & efficiency second to none & watching them work is akin to witnessing a magician unveiling the secrets behind his box of tricks, though somehow i can’t help but think sawing someone in half might be somewhat easier than recreating one of these designs…

this, to me, is the true magic of valentino master of couture

images via: anomadicabodecreative reviewdazed digitalcreative review

{today’s post is dedicated in memory of paolo, a former colleague who also happened to be an italian ‘valentino’ of sorts, who lost his hard-fought battle with cancer yesterday}

the problem with pursuing perfection {a lesson from the masters}…

the masters

a life lived in fear is a life half lived*

* * *

i’ve always been a perfectionist: part nature, part nurture i suspect…

but i think the real motivation behind my constant pursuit of perfection is fear: a fear of failure, a fear of not being good enough &, worst of all, a fear of mediocrity…

whilst still a work in progress, i’m happy to report that yesterday marked a turning point for me & my fears & the lesson came from one of the least likely of sources: the respective exhibitions of messrs tim walker & valentino at somerset house…

it might sound counter-intuitive, but observing the brilliance of some masters at their craft actually instilled within me a renewed self confidence…

as well as their work in fashion {walker a fashion photographer & valentino, of course, a world-reknowned designer}, both of these prolific artists also share a pioneering spirit & have adopted their own techniques throughout their careers to make their creative visions a reality…

so i was thrilled to discover that both of their exhibitions afforded the rarest of glimpses behind the workings of their creative process…

in valentino: a master of couture this came by way of a display case filled with sample after sample of sketches by the master himself {some art in their own right, others less so}…

whilst in tim walker : story teller we were privy to a collection of note pages depicting hand-drawn story boards of an upcoming photoshoot…

of course there were many, much more brilliant & breathtaking aspects on display {& i’ll cover those more in depth another day}, but these two things stood apart for me in particular because in each case we were able to see the respective artist’s design process from its most embryonic of stages: the first draft…

at first i was surprised at the simplicity of some of their sketches & the seemingly hurried imperfection of it all: crude lines & unfinished pen strokes serving no doubt as a form of shorthand with which to hastily offload the myriad of ideas swirling around inside their heads…

i questioned whether or not valentino really did formulate some of his ideas on what looked like scraps of paper & was tim walker himself responsible for the naive drawings which looked more in keeping with the scribbled homework of a primary school student: were these chicken scratchings truly the springboard from which museum-worthy photography and couture were formed?

& then it dawned on me…

far from being integral in the creative process, the pursuit of perfection is actually the enemy of it…

the creative process is born of the hurried sketch & the hastened storyboard…

it flourishes with every outpouring of raw, uncontrived vision…

it is fed by the lack of self-editing & finesse…

if these artists had for even one second worried that their initial sketches & ideas were not good enough then the actual perfection that resulted many, many stages down the line would never have come to be…

& that’s the problem with the pursuit of perfection: it fosters fear & fear cripples & the end result really would be a story untold, a vision unrealised, a masterpiece never to be unveiled & indeed a life half lived…

{*an old spanish proverb adopted by director baz luhrmann & quoted in the movie strictly ballroom}

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