Saturday, 10 September 2011

Kick off projects on Foundation and BA

I've had a number of queries this week about those exciting but sometimes disconcerting 'First projects' that have been designed to make you rethink how you approach art and design and what it means to be an 'artist' or designer. I have responded to some of these individually by email, especially if there is a very specific request, but there seems to be a common theme throughout many institutions, where students get given a phrase, or a picture each, or perhaps simply a word. They are then left to go forth and develop this in whatever direction they find themselves led. One that came my way this week, was a picture of a wardrobe, and so here I'm going to suggest some ways such a start might be developed.

Tord Boontje's Figleaf Wardrobe
My first thought naturally linked to my fairy heritage. The Victoria and Albert Museum did a mysterious exhibition in 2009 called Telling Tales, and the opening page of their website is a wardrobe made of fig leaves, with the branches of the tree inside, by the amazing Tord Boontje.Telling Tales: Fig Leaf Wardrobe by Boontje This plays on the fact that the body was originally, according to the bible, covered with Figleaves for modesty. Here the figleaves cover the clothes.
In the same exhibition is what looks like a wooden wardrobe by Maartan Baas, but it is really made of steel covered in veneer.

Maarten Baas Steel Wardrobe
The topic could also suggests Narnia  - the idea of hiding in an old wardrobe and finding a door to a world of fantasty - this would lead you in any direction you care to choose!

Check out hangers - here is a gorilla made out of metal hangers by David Mach.

David Mach: Gorilla made of hangers

Hanger Chandelier
Hangers are often recycled into interesting structures.

If you wanted to go dark, you could look at hanging, it's history, gallows, and phrases associated with this, such as 'pulling your leg'.

You could look at clothes hooks/pegs - school style. Did you have a picture of a kitten or a tractor to mark your peg?

What about a virtual wardrobe, or 'dressing up' paper dolls. There have been some interesting magnetic versions of this, on, for example, Michelangelo's David.

A wardrobe is a storage space, you might need mothballs - have a look at those. How are they wrapped? What do they look like? What are they made of? What are their links to smelling salts - could you look at connections to smelling salts or camphor.

Varieties of Smelling Salt Bottles
You could look at things that store other things. Campaign trunks, IKEA, boxes, doll's house furniture, etc.

Campaign Trunks
Each time you move onto a new connection, a whole new set of possibilities will reveal themselves. Enjoy!