10 June – 23 July 2005
Lorna Rebecca Miller
Abstracted Garments brings together several artists using constructive and reconstructive methods of manufacture and display to open up imaginative rather than practical possibilities. Initially abstracting garments brings to mind a notion of wearing without the necessity of parading one’s self in front of a full-length mirror.
As any body is removed from these works we are not bound by a specific reference or requirement but drawn into a scenario where the subject evolves through a sense of material performance.
But do we want to play it straight or bend the rules? In the 1942 film ‘Now Voyager’ dowdy Aunt Charlotte (Bette Davis) spends 3 months at a sanatorium undergoing psychiatric examination and learning how to weave. She then goes off on a cruise to South America. Onboard ship she assumes another identity, takes the place of Camille Beauchamp and inherits a wardrobe full of satin evening-gowns and bejewelled capes. Each garment is labelled-up with instructions of how to accessorize.
Charlotte is accustomed to regarding herself as an accessory to her mother who chooses Charlotte’s outfits to complement her own. When Charlotte returns home the butler opens the door: “Yes William it is me”. She is now an elegant woman. Mother is upstairs dressing. “Hello! Mother you’re looking wonderful”. Ignoring the compliment Mother tells her to step over there, turn around and walk up and down. The transformation is much worse than she could have imagined. “I’ll be wearing my white lace gown tonight. I’d like you to wear your black and white foulard”. Charlotte looks forlorn. “You’ve thought of everything, haven’t you, Mother?”. Later on Mother comes into Charlotte’s room. Charlotte is wearing a long black gown accentuating her figure. Mother is so appalled she leaves the room and hurls herself down the stairs.
Dressing-up doesn’t always elicit such a dramatic response. But there have been moments in most of our lives when a particular garment might have altered our perceptions. If you have experienced this, you are already onboard and about to enjoy this present exhibition.
Bernard Walsh © 2005
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