Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The talented Sandra Eterovic laid down the gauntlet for this post a few weeks ago: 7 Aesthetic themes used in your work.

I don't like to do things by halves, so I have been stewing away on this one in the interim. It's been a lovely exercise, trawling through my collection of inspirational images, mood boards and archives, to distill this down to the purest and most accurate 7 themes.

Some of you will recognise these inspirations, or perhaps you and I are still getting acquainted.

Bold colour, spectrums, tone variations.
I can't seem to get into neutrals or muted colours, I need bright stimulating colours to keep me going, it's like a tonic to my system.

I love the history of colour use throughout art and society, the origins of pigments and dyes, the inventiveness and trade of these much loved and sought after hues. Lapis Lazuli blue from Afghanistan, Indian Yellow from the urine of cows who are strictly fed mango leaves, purple from sea snails. Fascinating.

The amazing celebration of graphic design on a teeny tiny piece of well travelled paper. This also links to the idea of framing, I use this a lot in my work, whether it's stamps, hand-embroidered trims, motifs etc. Love a bit of framing.

Royal and military regalia.
Love the ribbons, enamelling, jewel setting, and decorative elements. I think this also extends to souvenir spoons, and has links with framing, motifs etc.

Much loved Beci Orpin Medal Print which lives in my lounge room.

Love a bit of dressing up. This is a classic pirate ensemble which used to reside in my hallway, the bib was $2 from Camberwell Market, the jacket $4 from an op-shop, the hat from a kid's party that Leo went to, and the souvenir spoon brooch from Kids in Berlin.

I particularly love 17th and 18th century dress, and European military uniforms - the predominance of red white and blue, the tailoring, the crisp silhouettes. The braiding, cording and embroidery present on male dress is something so quaint and decorative, I miss that peacock element of male dress. Vive Louis the Sun King!

I'm also rather a fan of sci-fi costuming, see the On My Bedside Table post on the Costumes of Star Wars.

Chinoiserie and Japonisme.
Can't get enough. I love the use of gold and silver, in works on paper and also brocade fabrics. Love the stylised graphics, the colours, the silhouette of traditional motifs; flowers, animals, utensils and borders.

Red and gold, fans, lanterns, tassels, umbrellas, obi, kimono, tabi socks and getas, Japanese 18th century woodcuts, the divine blues used by Hokusai and Hiroshige.

Hiroshige - Fuji

Shape and silhouette.
As a creature of contradictions, my work is not always about decoration and detail. Many of my ideas stem from a simple shape or silhouette, which lends the work an immediate point of reference without overloading it with information.

For years I have loved the shape of the traditional Chinese Junk Boat sails, and always wanted to make a pair of shoes inspired by this. Finally I got around to it, first making a playing card version for an exhibition, and then a fully constructed version for myself.

'Hong Kong' 2007

'Hong Kong' 2008

The shape of the hull also influenced the wedge sole.
This is one of the most 'complete' projects I've undertaken, and feels very satisfying to look back and see the whole thing from idea to existence.

Not sure exactly how this is 'aesthetic', but lists definitely form a theme in my work. One of my photography lecturers at art school noticed that I would always investigate and explore themes from beginning to end in a piece. This is a little hard to explain, but I love researching a period, or technique, and figuring out how to incorporate a summary of sorts on whatever topic it may be.

Doing this visually is a challenge, when is too much?

For example, when designing a pair of shoes I consider many factors; the period during which the style originated from, the classic toe shape, the heel height and shape, the colours, materials, surface decorations, buttons, zips etc. It all goes into my algorithm calculator, ie sketchbook, and I mess around with ideas until I come up with the perfect encapsulation of the theme.

For me this is a visual list, a complete collection of references which all add up to a final object. Hope that makes sense.

So thanks to Sandra for suggesting this topic. Let me know what you think, or if you fancy summarising your work in this way!

1 comment:

Lady Rockstitch said...

Very inspiring. I have just started a Certificate in Visual Arts majoring in Jewellery and sometimes struggle to push an idea further! I also have a soft spot for medals.