Monday, 17 August 2009

Would Richard Slee find this ornamentation a crime?

My solo show, “Close encounters of Frillip Moolog kind” is imminent. For it I have made new beings to “fly” within the fantastic Notting Hill venue, Westbourne Grove Church Artspace. I’m really excited about the show as for the first time visitors will be able to experience the beings from even more angles. Previous beings have been very much floor based but have always had special details on their underside; my motivation for these hidden details being my childhood memories of playing hide and sleek and exploring furniture from all angles.

At the beginning of this project I realised that it would be best to make lighter weight work to suspend from the ceiling. It didn’t take long to make the connection with lampshades. But the main reason that I wanted to use lampshades is because of the beautiful sculptural shapes that are possible, the way that the structure of the frame can be visible if translucent fabrics are used and also the beautiful complex shadows that they cast.

So here’s a sneak preview of Angie. Freddie Robins commented that Angie appeals to her because of her “awkwardness”. I feel that she’s both awkward and pretty at the same time. The words of the Bowie song, “Oh You pretty things” keeps going through my mind, which is interesting as I’ve named another of the new beings Ziggy.

Lampshades have featured in my life since an early age. Almost all of the lampshades in our house were ones made by my mum. I remember her going to night classes to learn how to make them and I used to sit mesmerized as she painstakingly wrapped the frames with bias binding before sewing on the lovely silk and chiffon covers. I think that her absolute best was an oval bell shaped one covered in pink chiffon. The fabric was all gathered up into a central (self covered) button on both the front and back. Buttons keep coming out in my work.

Being a farmer’s wife, my mum was a very busy person so sometimes things didn’t get finished. I have no intentions of finishing this, I just love keeping it in this "frozen in time" state.

I bet Stella Mitchell would love to add this unfinished beauty to her collection at her Land of Lost Content museum. If you’re ever near Craven Arms, Shropshire make sure to visit this way out museum. Exhibits behind chicken wire … say no more!! Sadly no photography is allowed there so you’ll have to take my word (and Wayne Hemmingway’s) for it!
One of the most important lampshades in my life is this one that mum bought in Paris back in 1961 when she was on her honeymoon. Here it is in all its faded glory. It was her pride and joy and the lovely rich velvet on the braid went really well with her kidney shaped red velvet sofa.

The lampshade's generously gathered fabric looks like silk but, no, this is plastic… of the very best Creations d’Art quality of course. I think that it was this plastic that really inspired me to use the “classy” plastic lace fabric when making Tall Legs. My mum was ridiculed by my cousins for continuing to love this lampshade through the hessian loving seventies, but I’m proud that she didn’t submit to fashion and kept it all those years (even though now relegated to the attic).

What a discovery the day that I came across this image (below) in the Conran Directory of Design by Stephen Bayley 1985. The writer says it all when he comments,
"Moller House Vienna 1928. Architect Adolf Loos was strongly opposed to ornamentation in architecture but later owners of the Moller house have not necessarily shared his feelings as this photograph reveals".

I felt that this image perfectly explained the differing aesthetics of Frillip Moolog beings; the streamlined Modernist inspired ones and the others where I have yielded to a few frills and decoration. That was the inspiration for the title, “The Yin & Yang of Frillip Moolog” , my solo show in Bedford earlier this year. I feel that in Frillip Moolog there is plenty of room for beings which express both sides of my personality.
On the question of ornamentation this MIMA event "Ornament is Crime" which will be curated by Richard Slee looks very definitely worth a visit.

To make Angie I had my lampshade frames made to measure by Jack at A & J Lampshade Frames. They are a great example of quality craftsmanship and it’s exciting to see that British manufacturing is still thriving. I think next time I will challenge him with even more complex curves.
Finally a few lampshades from my photo albums: This wonderfully atmospheric sound light installation by Kirsten Reynolds was part of the Powerplant event in Liverpool last October. We just sat there listening to the whispered words and sounds. (My cousin Dave Statham was one of the Powerplant team.)
Kirsten's own words best convey the atmosphere she created, " An avenue of tall elegant standard lamps illuminates the long row of park benches. Fluctuations in the light and sound from each lamp respond to and simultaneously influence the lights and sounds of others resulting in an ever changing conversation between flickering luminousity and chattering harmonies. A series of small human scale environments is created providing meditative places to sit and contemplate both the gardens and the memories of individuals named on each bench."

Lampshades must be "in the air" at the moment. On our recent camping holiday in Leicestershire one of the craft activities was to modify and embellish old lampshades. The lampshade (above) was decorated by a friend and gave some atmospheric lighting to the woods at night.
And here's another great example made in that craft session. What a fun use of paper cases for cupcakes! Could Richard Slee really call this ornamenation a crime?