Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Pattern Cutting as Art: A study on Anansi

To coincide with the Frieze art fair Paul Smith will be exhibiting the latest body of work from Hormazd Narielwalla entitled ‘A Study on Anansi’ from 10th to 21st October at his Furnishing Gallery. The exhibition will consist of a set of ten artworks drawing inspiration from two sources, Savile Row tailoring patterns and traditional African Anansi tales to create a new body of work.

A Study on Anansi is a celebration of the popular character from West African and Caribbean folklore brought to life using the discarded patterns. "Anansi", the trickster, is the wise and clever Earth God but I have to confess to turning to my trusty friend google, for answers. Despite my ignorance, many aspects of these stories have trickled through to Western society and into children’s stories, super-hero characters and fictional literature. In some versions of the stories Anansi created the sun, moon and all the stars. This attribute of the stories makes it through into Narielwalla’s work where Anansi dances, teases and entertains himself with his most prized creation, the sun.

I first came across Hormazd Narielwalla's work at EXIT Gallery's "A Fairytale About Fashion" exhibition. Narielwalla's Dead Man’s Patterns was a design story, beneath the trappings of menswear into the book, the man, the pattern, and his images really captured my imagination. and I just had to post about it. The artists work originates from sets of bespoke patterns, which of course belonged to former customers, now deceased, from a by-gone era. These patterns have recorded a history of intimate dialogues of customer measurements and fittings over a lifetime but no longer have any practical use to the cutter and are often discarded. The talented Hormazd takes these fragile pieces of parchment out of their original context and breathes fresh life in to the creases and careful folds, along finely traced pencil marks and measurements. Opportunities are created by giving these pieces of discarded paper a chance to breathe, simply in the act of extracting, giving them a new lease of life as art objects.

For this work, Narielwalla's uses scans, photography, his own sketches and digital composition to create a set of playful artworks that have a traditional look and appeal. Creating bespoke clothes for the rich and powerful has made Savile Row iconic but in this evocative work Narielwalla is showing us tailoring patterns, as they have never been seen. The patterns are reinterpreted and resurrected; the lives of people measured through tailoring are brought back to life as works of art through even older tales from another world.

For the past year and a half Hormazd has had the opportunity to work closely with Dege & Skinner's cutters and tailors. It is in this private tailoring environment that he truly began to consider tailoring as Art. Hormazd has recently been awarded an international scholarship to read a Doctorate in Philosophy at London College of Fashion and his main focus will be on pattern cutting as Art. The artist is currently working on the memoirs of Master Tailor and Chairman of the firm, Michael Skinner. Skinner's story will be narrated through his own pattern cutting journals whilst studying at the prestigious Tailor & Cutter Academy. I can't wait to find out more information on this project and as soon as I do, I'll share it with you. In the meantime, enjoy the selection of artwork above.

1 comment:

John said...

Nice. Thanks so much for sharing. I remember your last piece fondly, I want to own his book.


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