13 May 2016

Androgyny and Identity: Kathryn Walsh's Capsule Collection 'Flare'

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae
Models: Jess Little and Thornton Wood

SE: What’s your capsule collection about?

KW: I’ve designed a range of staples that are designed with both men and women in mind and they’re sort of subtly disrupted. I’ll have some asymmetry interrupting a t-shirt or hand fraying a pair of trousers.

SE: Is there a reason why you wanted to make it unisex?

KW: I feel like we’re all made up of masculine and feminine elements and the degrees to which we hold these traits makes up our individual personalities. I think as a designer I wanted to represent identity through clothing and I think that’s what attracted me to design in the first place. 

SE: Do you get frustrated about what’s meant to be masculine/feminine or menswear/womenswear?

KW: I don’t find it frustrating. I do think that it’s fantastic that there’s so much attention being drawn to gender at the moment - identification and sexuality. Because I think it means that we’re questioning the roles and stereotypes in society.

SE: Is this what you’re planning to do now you’re graduated?

KW: It was quite taxing being at uni, so I wanted to take some time off and re-centre and I just got really creative and wanted to start making some clothes.

SE: What about within yourself personally, you say people’s personalities are made up of masculine and feminine elements. Is that something you’ve identified in your own personality?

KW: Oh, of course. I tend to feel that generally I’m a bit more masculine than feminine. In a certain way, like I find it easier to talk to guys because I’m quite direct and I see that as a more masculine trait. And I’ve always felt more comfortable dressing in menswear than womenswear.

SE: Do you find it hard to find things [clothing] that’s like you?

KW: No, but I think it’s really interesting to figure it out as you go. In creating you’re learning about who you are.

SE: What have you learnt then?

KW: It’s a hard thing to put into words, but if you gave me a moment I'll have a think about it.

(Later via text) Flare was really an extension of my graduate collection which was guided by an investigation into balance, making something messy look clean and finding a point between masculinity and femininity that felt interesting to me. And I think through the process I was able to resolve a kind of tension between these dualistic elements within my own personality, identifying how they can coexist in harmony.

SE: What are you planning to do after this?

KW: I’m hoping to head down to Melbourne at some point and I’d love to work in any kind of design role. But until then I’m just kind of being a bit of a punk, I suppose, doing everything myself because I’m just really enjoying it. I want to make some art and keep making clothes and keep pushing to figure out what I’m about because I think it’s a process of unveiling that. 


5 May 2016

Spotlight on Alex Gillies at ‘Above and Below’ exhibition at Graydon Gallery

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

From what I understand, if you’re a creative person, you can have a restless personality.

You have a fairly constant feeling that you have to do something. There’s an almost manic overwhelming desire to bring something alive. It seems to be almost akin to anxiety - where a feeling swells to a point where there’s a gush of art, writing, music.

I think Alex Gillies is a bit like this.

He didn’t start really being creative until he was in his 30s. But from there he caught that all consuming feeling that compels people to create. 

“I decided that... I should do something creative because I was kind of frustrated that I hadn’t done anything and I ended up buying a drum kit and taking up music.

“But it wasn’t until seven or eight years ago that I actually started getting into visual art as well.

“And that was only because I had to design a album cover for a band I was in. And through designing that album cover I got interested in print making.”

His art is pretty specialised - Alex does wood carving that’s used for making prints. The images can be really detailed. There are hands, faces, birds, skulls, cowboys.

“When you start allowing your imagination run wild and then be creative in whatever way you think you can get away with, it definitely has a part in you figuring out who you are as a person or what you want to say, what you want to do with yourself.

“It changes the way you do things, for the better. It seeps into just about everything you do and see around you.”

One of Alex’s favourites is a self portrait. He’s writing on a typewriter, which Alex decided to depict because he “really like[s] the texture and the detail of the typewriter, the way the keys and the hammer keys worked”. 

Apparently initially he wasn’t super in love with the piece. But when it was exhibited, people really liked it.

“The response that I got to that was unexpected and it ended up being a piece I’ve sold a lot of prints of and over time it’s become one of my favourites.”

For a highly-technical art form, it’s pretty impressive that Alex is effectively self-taught. 

“I basically just went to my library and would borrow any books I could find... and just experimented.

“I’d see a technique or the way something was done in a book and then try and incorporate that and how that worked.

“I took inspiration and education wherever I could find it.”

Alex says he has a new idea for a print almost every day - that his head whirs with images.

“Just like you go through a whole range of emotions - I go through a whole range of ideas of what I might want to do next.

“Some of them stick, some of them just fall away.”

But now, after doing some 200 pieces, Alex just really wants to bring whatever he’s currently working on into fruition.

“Maybe when I first started I had a trajectory of sorts, that I wanted to do art shows and I wanted people to see what I’ve done and maybe to take some kind of artistic avenue.

“But over the last couple of years, my goal is whatever I’m working on at that very moment. 

“I just want to try to articulate whatever idea is in my head.”

And really that’s a life-long goal. Because those ideas won’t ever stop coming. Like an irrepressible deluge, it’s forever. It’s a love and the curse of the artist who can never really stop creating.

29 April 2016

Bonus Content: B&W Roll of 2015 QUT Fashion Graduates

Images on 35mm film: Ren Scurville
Styling/Creative Direction: Saskia Edwards
Hair/Makeup: Alyssa Selin
Model: Zemira at Que

A feature of designs from QUT's 2015 Fine Arts Fashion graduates. Look at the original spread here.

24 April 2016

20th Biennale of Sydney 'The Future Is Already Here - It's Just Not Evenly Distributed'

Words: Jonathan Rae
Images: Jonathan Rae

It's the 20th time the internationally acclaimed Biennale of Sydney has run.

The show is curated by Stephanie Rosenthal and presented at a bunch of places around central Sydney known as 'embassies'.

The works on show encompass everything from found objects, video installations, kinetic sculpture, performance 'art' to more traditional mediums such as painting.

Rosenthal's concept for the curation of exhibition was to assign each embassy an idea of thought. For example, the Cockatoo Island venue was assigned 'Embassy of the Real' and the Carriageworks venue 'Embassy of Disappearance'.

This Biennale may be big on thought, but the ideas translate poorly in the work on show. Although each location is assigned an idea or concept, there appears to be no cohesive message or aesthetic at each location besides what we are told we are supposed to feel through vague didactics.

There are a lot of Instagram-bait works that rely on scale - like that of Lee Bul's installation that can only be described as a deflated looking circus tent mixed in with some hot air balloons and fairy lights (a far cry from her previous intricate and complex works) or William Forsythe's pendulum room. Otherwise, a lot of the work fails to stand out.

The banality of the curation is even more amplified on Cockatoo Island and at Carriageworks where the gallery space and architecture is often more interesting than the work on offer. The pieces on show often rely too heavily on buzzword loaded didactic panels and fail to convey the ideas the curator had hoped to express. It falls into something akin to university student work, loaded with supposed concepts, unloaded with presentation and execution.

Basically, the banality of the works and ideas leave the viewer with a rather flat feeling at the 20th Biennale of Sydney. If this is what the idea of the future feels like, I want off this ride.

10 March 2016

Bonus Content: Pastel Hick on Film

 Styling / Creative Direction / Photography on 35mm film : Saskia Edwards
Creative Direction: Jonathan Rae
Model: Hamish Hill
Clothes: Aidan Renata / Sally Edwards

Rusted fields, 
Frayed wire.
Yeah, my own pastel hick.

8 February 2016

Collette Dinnigan: Unlaced Exhibition at Sydney Powerhouse Museum

Words: Saskia Edwards
Images: Jonathan Rae

There’s a lot of lace, a lot of beads, and no doubt, a lot of chiffon. We’re talking about Collette Dinnigan - who’s best known for her ultra-feminine ensembles and dressing the likes of Taylor Swift and Julie Bishop. 

Well, let’s face it, her designs are part of a suburban aspiration of style. In a way, they sit alongside Tiffany & Co and Coach Bags - easily ogled without any push towards the avant-garde. In my mind, her real legacy will be reducing the barriers for Australian designers looking to an international market. After all, she was the first Australian designer to be on the official schedule at Paris fashion week. And here’s another first: Collette is the first Australian designer to have their own retrospective at the Sydney Powerhouse. With an illustrious ready-to-wear career, a children’s diffusion label and impressive collaborations perhaps the idea of a “powerhouse” is truly fitting.