Nine students who embarked on the MA Fashion Artefact course at London College of Fashion – Alexandra Gross, Charlie Goldthorpe, Hanwen Shen, Kat Marks, Lara Torres, Oliver Ruuger, Vesna Pesic, Wei Wang and Yu Lin Xu – found a strong synergy among themselves, deciding to form a collective of creative minds. Working in different mediums from design, to film, media and photography, the Artefact Collective developed works moving from complexity and the chaos theory, the theme of absence, Picasso’s Cubism, the erotic power of a woman’s nape and the emotional effects that poetry in prose can produce in millinery. The Collective’s works will be unveiled this week in an exhibition at London’s Victoria House.
“It has been truly enjoyable to work alongside such talented designers and I am proud of the diversity between our individual craft,” states the Collective co-ordinator Kat Marks. Her rigid plastic breastplates, leather bibs and tuxedo bow-ties take inspiration from Kurt Vonnegut’s karass in the book Cat’s Cradle and collaborates with creatives such as milliner Niamh Flanagan – recently developed with SHOWstudio and visionary photographer Nick Knight a film based on the narrative power of the character/object dichotomy.
Dazed Digital: What’s the main theme of your project?
Lara Torres: Memory and clothing. Since 2005 I have been carrying out an exploration in the possibilities of creating garments and objects that formally express the mechanisms of memory and supported my designs with an experimental and conceptual research.
DD: What does the title of your project – “An impossible wardrobe for the invisible” – refer to?
Lara Torres: It hints at a lost object, at the documentation of this loss and at the creation of temporary objects. Clothes leave a trace – embodied by the seams – that reinforce the processes of remembering and forgetting. I have documented the designs with a video and, at the final exhibition, I will be presenting seven performances and one object as part of a mixed media installation.
Dazed Digital: Your pieces like the case covered in spikes or the umbrella with the horsetail have a strong surreal quality about them, could they be considered as objects d'art?
Oliver Ruuger: My pieces aren’t subservient to the person carrying them but as designs with a strong presence, as things with a life on their own. For example, my case covered in spikes comes across as an animal or a strange creature rather than a simple bag. This quality allows the objects to stand next to the person carrying them and coming across as equals rather than as inanimate things.
DD: You employed valuable materials such as ebony and leather from the last oak leather tannery left in the UK: are you trying to blend heritage with modern design?
Oliver Ruuger: Like many of the other designers and artists in our group, I’m interested in exploring the traditional and the new and I do feel every material and manual process contributes to the presence of the object. This is why I don’t like using any pre-made components, but try to make everything from scratch. The manual part is quite big and hundreds of hours go into the designs we have produced for this exhibition. While coming up with our pieces, many of us also wondered what is luxury and I came to the conclusion that this is a special quality that must be encased within the object and not within the experience surrounding it.
Dazed Digital: What prompted you to explore the possibilities ceramics can offer?
Wei Wang: I’ve been working as a sport accessory designer for several years and I felt there is a limited choice when it comes to the materials for bags. While creating sport pieces we indeed tend to think about the function of that specific sport and do not use any fashionable or luxury materials. This is what pushed me to look for elegant and precious materials that can be employed for bags.
DD: What fascinates you about Oriental ceramics?
Wei Wang: Ceramics is an unpredictable material as every piece is unique and each comes with its own surface effects. I was fascinated by this quality, but also by another point: the ceramic glaze I used is cracked and keeps on cracking while wearing the bag. In this way the bag becomes a sort of “memory stick”, an object that carries within itself every past and present moment.
The Artefact Collective’s exhibition at Victoria House (Victoria House Basement), Bloomsbury Square, London; From 2nd to 9th February (12pm-7pm)
Alexandra Gross: Jon Meade; Oliver Ruuger: Michiel Meewis; Hanwen Shen: Zhiyong Jiao; Charlie Goldthorpe: Tim Medley; Vesna Pesic: Ashley Low; Kat Marks: Paul Hine; Wei Wang: Tom Mulvee; Lara Torres: Direction and concept Lara Torres Co-direction Pedro Fortes, Assistant Yann Gibert.