Wednesday 22 May 2019

evolve or become relic

Not everybody will agree with me but I think clothes can be art. Most of the time what we wear in everyday life is simply a utilitarian necessity. We put on clothes every day because we are expected to be modest, to keep warm or a uniform is mandatory in our workplace. In the final analysis clothes must be worn everyday simply because our society doesn’t allow public nudity.

Most of us buy readymade clothes from the retail shops that supply them. Some of what is available is described as “fashion” and reflects the current fads that some people are wearing in their competition with each other to look more outstandingly sartorial than all others wearing similar outfits.

Fashion is an industry that has to literally reinvent itself every day to keep making money. The people who consume it want it to keep changing constantly. To be a successful fashionista you have to be a trendsetter and a trendsetter cannot be wearing what everybody else wears, they have to be ahead of the game.

The fashion industry is a dynamic culture of ideas where the concept of appropriation has virtually no deference.  od thing.

This Ted talk by Johanna Blakley from 2010 sums up succinctly so much of what I want to say

(their might be a problem with the youtube link, but you can select to read the transcript)
But clothes can also express themselves as a high art form.

When a form stops evolving it will eventually become an artefact.

In Australia in the 1970s the indigenous people started reviving their traditional iconography. In the beginning some of them used customary materials like bark, clays and organic colouring to depict their images. This was quickly superseded by the wholesale adoption of western mediums – paintbrushes, canvas, paints. Traditionally aboriginal people painted ceremonial objects like the didgeridoo and their bodies. Some tribal groups did have a tradition of 2 dimensional illustration on rocks and rock faces but the evolution into painting on canvas to create an object for displaying in a home/gallery, with the purpose to sell, was an entirely radical move away from tens of thousands of years of custom and tradition.

There was an aboriginal artist who was famous before the 1970s revival called Albert Namatjira. Namatjira was trained in the western style of landscape and his medium was water colour. Pablo Picasso remarked that Namatjiras work was some of the most impressive he had ever seen. Some people have argued that Namatjira isn’t really representative of aboriginal art.

As a counterpoint another contemporary indigenous artist is Adam Hill  
Some of his exhibtions have been titled “Not a Proppa Aborigine” and Storm in a teacup
Adam Hill identifies himself as a contemporary Australian visual artist. He describes himself as a “visual activist” and dislikes being described as an aboriginal artist. 
He is one of the 7 artists who formed the group ProppaNOW

"Proppa" is a corruption of the english word "proper" that has been adopted as a pidgin term by many indigenous people to describe fitting in and acting according to expectations in white society. 
Another well known member of the group is artist Richard Bell, notorious for his winning artwork in the 2003 Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Islander Art Awards with a painting emblazoned with the text - Aboriginal Art/It’s A White Thing.

One of the missions of the ProppaNOW collective is to question the understanding of what is and who does authentic aboriginal art in Australia.

Tomorrow I'm going to contradict myself from when I blogged yesterday that I wouldn't make any more commentary on the contention that use of the word kimono by non-Japanese is an unacceptable cultural appropriation. I changed my mind after being sent this link by a friend yesterday. 

Shin Shin, Naming does matter (my thoughts on cultural appropriation)

The link will take you to an impassioned blog post made by the Japanese ceramic artist Makiko Hastings who has lived in the UK for 22 years.
She wrote a long piece outlining her feelings, opinions and experiences. I think she has made some really good points about using the word kimono and I'll be quoting pieces of her writing and giving my reflections on what she says

Just to reiterate the statement I made earlier on in  this blog

When a form stops evolving it will eventually become an artefact.

When I examine what Makiko Hasting says this will underpin my reflections.


I have decided to go back to naming my next clothing design to publish the "Jorja Jacket". A few days ago I was suggesting to name it the Sencha Kimono as an act of resistance to the people who want to ring fence the word kimono.

My husband is a sweet man of great good sense and last night he gave me a bit of a lecture about graciousness.

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