Thursday, 14 July 2011

Tradition with a Twist

No one ever mentioned growing up would be so fun. Hitting 30 was like taking a big deep yogic breath for the psyche…feel your belly rise, feel your belly fall. Not that I'm about to get crazy spiritual and start dreadlocking my hair, (eww) it's just nice to have a few life lessons under the belt and thus be able to appreciate stuff in a new light.

Which is what this post is about, getting a bit older to appreciate the finer things, but keeping it fresh and playful. It is very inspiring when this is done well. 
I've included my favourite examples of Art, Fashion and Design ideas that take ‘traditional’ to a new level, where CPR has been performed on a concept and new life has hacked it's way back into current day. Hope you enjoy:

Twisty Art:

There is about a billion artists trotting the globe reinterpreting and reenergising ideas in the name of art.
A few of my favourites have a major ‘quirk factor’ and are unique in their own way, if you head to Melbourne’s ‘Outré Gallery’ you can discover some of your own contemporary, lowbrow, pop surrealism, street, tiki, modern folk, retro with a twist and underground art, favourites.

One artist that is featured heavily in Outre is Charles Krafft. Krafft intrigues me, his ceramics are simply beautiful and his subject matter is startling. Krafft uses the colors and techniques of the great Delft masters. His counter-culture ceramic creations are labeled ‘Disasterwear’.
Krafft explains “you never find the pictures of the gritty life most of us are living in the late 20th century on ornamental china because no one would want to hang it on their walls, much less eat off it".
Well I disagree Mr Krafft, I would happily drink tea out of this Amy Winehouse tea-pot, or display the adorable hand grenade on my mantle:

Another fantastic design duo are ‘Kozyndan’ (literally, Kozy n Dan) they reinterpret famous traditional Japanese prints into very covetable, contemporary bunny-mania illustrations. Probably their most famous is bunny version of the popular traditional Japanese woodblock print ‘The Wave’ by the Japanese artist Hokusai. It was published around the 1830’s.

Here is the traditional woodblock next to Kozyndan’s interpretation, both are stunning in their own right:
I particularly love this bunny blossom print – (this a photo of the print above my bed, lucky me) a layered springtime celebration, of Japanese spring cherry blossoms reinterpreted using the traditional European spring symbol of the rabbit.

I’m also fortunate enough to be a part of a community of amazing contemporary artists who celebrate traditional methods of art making with evocative contemporary twists.
Something magical happens when an artist challenges ancient art methods with a pop-colour palette or breath new life into their craft with a fresh subject matter. 
My favourite example of this is part-time artist, full time curator, girl about town, vodka appreciator and general culture consumer – Mardi Nowak:
Mardi makes stunning tapestries (and other stuff including fashion in our up-coming radical label ‘Fringe Club’).
You can see Mardi’s exciting new work coming together on her blog.
Mardi’s technique is highly regarded in the arts community as well as her fresh take on the traditional tapestry method. I adore her use of colour and collages from consumer images, to form the base for works. Mardi’s passion for her craft is displayed on her left and right wrist, where she has tattoo’d ‘warp and weft’. 

Also, Mardi has written a blog post about – Amy Ahlstrom – who is a contemporary ‘quilt artist’…it’s about time we saw quilting bought into this century! Check out Mardi’s article:

I was also featured in an art exhibition Mardi curated at the ‘Town Hall Gallery’ titled ‘Beardo’.
This exhibition celebrated the re-emergence of the ‘Beard’. 
Me and my design buddy Benj Dawe collaborated with MGH photography and used my very favourite model Jenny Eden, to re-invigorate the beard. We used a ‘pants beard’ concept:

Quirky home wares, is a favourite topic of mine; you can see a previous post I wrote on this - Here’s some more Twisty but Traditional pieces for the home:

I designed this wall paper yesterday, to see what type of pattern I could make from a plain old 'Waiters Friend'. I think it looks pretty neat and this could be easily screen printed...I may design a few more and approach some of my favourite bars to see what they think:
This glorious Chaise lounge by House of Hackney takes a traditional item and covers it with a zany fabric. I would give my kingdom for one of these, but covered in traditional Australian fabric, as we know I have a penchant for the Koala.
Or as they put it: 'House of Hackney takes the concept of British home wares and turns it on its head subverting traditional products with playful and irreverent prints and imagery to appeal to a new generation.’
Also note that House of Hackney teams up with Opening Ceremony in October this year…
This adorable and playful 'Dog' Lamp makes me giggle, a number of these adorable pieces for the home can be found at ‘howkapow’s' - their amazing website describes it as:
‘Hand-made from sustainable walnut, and quality materials this wonderfully contemporary lamp that will brighten up any mood - or table top!’
Also at howkapow I heart this turquoise pipe coat rack: ‘attractively combines fun and function’
For kids these gorgeous Manchester designs are clever and playful: ‘There’s nothing cosier than being packed in like sardines’ from Bed Toppings:  
I truly heart anything ceramic and these plates are no exception. Created by FLUX Ceramics - 'Established by students from the MA Ceramic Design course at Staffordshire University, they had a desire to regenerate the Staffordshire pottery industry'. 
Anything fluoro I adore…basically take any antique, wack some hot pink or lime paint on it and it’ll get a Shannon O’Shea squeal and tick of approval..not unlike when the Joker splats fluoro paint on gotham’s art collection in Batman.

This French fauteuil in chartreuse patent leather is no exception:

I’m lucky enough to live close to Living Edge, a contemporary furniture store that stocks gems like this Bricks n mortar couch set by British artist Richard Woods and designer Sebastian Wrong.

I have another creative friend Jessi who creates crafty lampshades from traditional and quirky fabrics, that are utterly adorable: 'Lady Luck Lampshades is a boutique business that specialises in quality lampshades, 
proudly handmade in Melbourne, Australia.
My favourite is this spunky cowboy lampshade: 

Twisty Fashion:

A thrilling fashion moment was when a super creative friend of mine Momo, met me for a lunch date in her ‘re-energised’ 'monkeys in a barrel' teeshirt…she creatively attached fluoro monkeys from the barrel onto her fitted teeshirt, it worked tremendously, and I still remember it 5 or so years later!

More than art, fashion continuously reinvents itself, drawing on history to recreate the new.
It is very common for high-end designers to reference themselves in contemporary collections, or draw from vintage and historical periods for their patterns. Truly contemporary fashion designers recreate the wheel but the majority of designers are inventive in their reinvention.

You also get crafty people creating fun accessories from old stuff like headbands made from ties, cufflinks and earrings made from typewriter keys, or stunning jewellery made from old fobwatch parts, see stores like Etsy, or Rose Street Artists Market for a myriad of clever designers.

I heart Lily Allen’s vintage range she has created with her sister "Lucy in Disguise"…who doesn't need a nautical jumpsuit: 
Also the crew over at Red Velvet are VERY crafty and generous on the ‘how to’s if you’re wanting to get into creating crafty things…
And the majority of designs at 'Opening Ceremony' are traditional with a twist, like this gorgeous Ceramic Bowtie:
If you’re wanting to buy some 'traditional with a twist' pieces, I recommend you head to these online stores and retail outlets:

A favourite store of mine is Third Drawer Down – a gallery slash store with awesome 're-invigorated' concepts like this:  Mini Frites Beanbag
And these GIANT SCISSORS by Great Big Stuff, who doesn't need oversized stuff?!

Red Velvet – inspirational!
Lost at E Minor – full of quirky and zany products and designers!
NotCouture - My online guide to many things...
Finders Keepers – emerging Australian crafties and designers!
DOUGLAS & HOPE - Fitzroy, Melbourne - very adorable products!
The Corner store -  in WA also stock wonderful twisty pieces


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