It’s hard to put a finger on what Judy Blame does – he straddles the roles of accessories designer, art director, fashion stylist and punk iconoclast. While Blame was born in Devon, he’s a child of 70s punk – and, 40 years later, still has that attitude. It was on London’s 1980s club scene that he found his creative voice, fashioning jewellery to wear out everything from chains to bones he found in the Thames using a technique known as mudlarking.
He’s collaborated with the likes of Rei Petri and the Buffalo fashion collective, the House of Beauty and Culture (of which he was a co-founder), cult designer Christopher Nemeth, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, and most recently Kim Jones at Louis Vuitton on the brand’s AW15 collection. And yet the demand for his expertise has not been limited to fashion, he’s worked in music too, as an art director and image consultant for the likes of Boy George, Neneh Cherry, Kylie Minogue, Massive Attack and Björk.
Today sees the opening of Never Again: Judy Blame at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, the polymath’s first solo exhibition. It brings together several decades of work – jewellery, clothes, sketches, editorials, artefacts, including the brooches he made out of gold chains and fluorescent pink plastic toy soldiers for Comme des Garçons’ SS05 menswear collection.
“I think I’ll still be fiddling with everything two minutes before the punters come in,” he says in an interview with AnOther. Though Blame’s work is varied, he started to notice themes as he was working on the show – “There were certain threads that ran throughout the whole time I have been doing it, that you don’t consciously think that you’re repeating or pulling back again. So it was funny: certain colours I always veer towards, certain materials (that) always seem to come around again. I didn’t see it as a stop-start kind of thing, I saw it as just a big flow, really, which is my career.”