Sweet Dreams Are Made of This
26 September to 20 October 2012
About a year ago I began to experiment with fabric from Mattresses and in making it into elaborate coats for men and women.
I have always loved clothes and been aware of the magical quality they have to invoke feelings and characters by being worn or the power to express in a constant and outward way the values and qualities of the wearer. In other words the unavoidable code we all tap out every day to others by getting dressed.
Initially I made a series of eight coats from mattress and bed fabric and have since added four more. Some of them are lined with old bedclothes, some are unlined. I have used conventional dressmaking supplies for fastenings and construction as well as some ornamentation. In refiguring the fabric I am interested in the transitions of meaning for example; a bloodstain moved from the centre of a mattress to the elbow of a coat evolves to be simultaneously the stain of adulthood menstruation and of childhood injury.
I love watching people dress up and play with them; impervious to the strong taboo of menstrual blood and other bodily fluids. I did not expect their enthusiasm and continue to be fascinated as people breathe in deeply the smell of dog and mould and nobody knows what. As if the mere act of recutting and sewing has deemed them sanitary; hygienic; safe.
To carry this reconstitution further I am currently working on a series of paintings; depicting my mattress coats being worn by very established celebrities. The ‘Stars’ include Kate Moss, Keith Richards, Naomi Campbell, Bob Dylan, Brad Pitt, Patti Smith, Johnny Depp, Vivienne Westwood, and David Bowie. I chose personalities that seem to go beyond being recognised for their career into being idolised in all aspects of their existence including the way they dress. I also chose people I believe have been in the public consciousness for so many years, as to have taken on an almost mythical status.
I see Celebrity culture as a distillation of social values. In deeming select people worthy of such widespread and lasting esteem we create symbols of our own social aspiration.
Celebrity endorsement is a kind of capitalist propaganda which has long been a method of selling product and in my fictionalised compositions I am trying to catch hold of that spirit and exploit these celebrated images to give credence to my own work. I don’t necessarily think these famous people would agree to being used as mascots for my art, but like so much of how they appear to the public; they have no say in it.
I am drawing on traditional European painting techniques. Through the fusing of old and new forms of idolatry I want to provoke thought around themes of wealth and success, fame and ambition, and social normalcy. Not to condemn or celebrate but just to reframe and question.