Some of the most satisfying pieces of art or craft are when various strands of visual culture and experience collide to make one coherent whole.
This is not going to deteriorate into a fashion blog (I’ll spare you an aesthetic analysis of my unnecessarily large collection of shoes), but I was struck by the design work of Andrea Zapp on my last visit to Manchester Art Gallery. Having come straight out of the Cotton Couture exhibition, Zapp’s pieces seemed to me to be everything that the cotton creations were not; silky, striking, clean and modern.
Based on her trips around the world, the simply-cut hand-made dresses showed photographs of places and buildings, reproductions of works of art and images of ‘items of curiosity’. The layers of the creative process are physically interpreted in the lay-out of the gallery space; creating almost a feeling of infinite regress. A photograph of balconies in India is reproduced in high-definition on a dress worn by a mannequin, posed as if reading the gallery notes discussing the photograph of the balconies in India. Call me a bear of very little brain, but my mind was blown.
On a more superficial level, I love buildings, and photography, and fashion, and the possibility of being able to physically wear a hybrid of all of these things seems like a match made in heaven. Zapp designed three exclusive limited edition dresses especially for the exhibition, but thankfully for me and my bank account, I didn’t stay long enough to check the price tags…