The makers of art-meets-fashion reflect on their first exhibition in the couture capital
Beca Lipscombe and Lucy McKenzie believe that art and commercialism need not exist in separate worlds. Under the name Atelier E.B. (E.B. for the duo’s respective origins of Edinburgh and Brussels), the fashion designer and artist create eclectic works that promote fine art as an accessible medium. Their work is rooted in a fascination with fashion, textiles and artisan production, using mixed medias that range from draped fabric and silk screen printing to digital graphics and intricate stencilled motifs. Recently, the creatives have been losing themselves in Paris in preparation for their second solo exhibition. Dazed Digital pulled them aside to hear all about it.
Dazed Digital: So how did you both get to where you are today?
Lucy McKenzie: I studied art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, and Beca studied fashion/print at Central Saint Martins. Since graduating in 1999 I’ve been working as a fine artist, exhibiting paintings throughout Europe and North America.
Beca Lipscombe: Previously I have worked freelance for Chloé, Liberty and Stella McCartney and have been running my own label, Beca Lipscombe, since 2000.
DD: How have your cultural backgrounds impacted on your work?
Lucy McKenzie: The Glasgow of my adolescence was vibrant and exciting, not just a provincial city hobbled by industrial decline. The interlinking of art and music, in which many women participated in the 1990s, produced a sophisticated plurality. I played in bands and published a fanzine, and the DIY ethos is still with me today.
Beca Lipscombe: After studying in London and working in Paris, returning to Edinburgh to set up home and studio allowed me to appreciate a city and a country I had come to take for granted. I have learnt to utilise what is on my doorstep and as a designer I am interested in the nuances of local history and culture.
DD: Atelier E.B. is all about fusing art with the commercial world. What have your experiences of this been like?
Lucy McKenzie: We have a great respect for traditional craft, something that radically disappeared in our lifetimes in Scotland, and we felt something worth combining with the world of contemporary art, which has so much space for discourse, dissemination and support. Our only agenda is personal fulfilment, so the experience has been very positive so far.
DD: What can audiences expect from the exhibition, and how will it differ to your first solo show in Glasgow?
Lucy McKenzie: Our desire was to experience Paris. We have no history there as Atelier so we wanted to see what reaction we would get from a city that is famously tough and business-like about fashion.
Beca Lipscombe: Expect something uncommon, a transparency about the creative process, and a sneak preview of our new work. It is a continuation, building on what we learned from [our Glasgow] experience.
Atelier (Edinburgh-Bruxelles) Work in Progress, Paris runs until 3rd November at 8, rue Saint-Bon, 75004 Paris