Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet: Rob Ryan

Rob Ryan! In Scotland! In Falkirk! Accessible! Free!

When I read about Rob Ryan's exhibition 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', I couldn't wait to visit. I've admired his work for a long time, so the opportunity to see the original paper-cuts in real life was unmissable.

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, Falkirk

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, FalkirkEach word - each letter -  has been intricately carved in paper and card.

Black and white and primary colours. Hypnotic, emotional words. Aspirational ideals about life, love, relationships, the planet, the stars. Cities, towns, forests and secret spaces mapped out in paper.

The houses are crookedly cute, the birds 'tweet' and 'cheep' and every cut of the knife reveals and encloses the space beneath it in intricate relief.

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, Falkirk

'The Pearl's Story' was one of my favourites: evocative, detailed, true, bittersweet and personifying the treasure of the ocean.

There was a lot of monochrome, which chimes with me, and it was obvious a lot of the work was very personal.

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, FalkirkRob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, FalkirkSomeone had written in the comments book that the pieces were 'too expensive', but I don't think you can ever truly put a price on someone's creative vision, ability and time.

(You can buy Rob Ryan original artwork, prints and more here. I think they are priceless, and I'm saving up for this).

What I love particularly about Rob's work is the sense that what you see is just a snapshot of a moment, like in absorbing the details of the scenes he creates we're privy to a tiny moment in the great big universe of time and motion and that, well, love hasn't even got started yet.

Then there were the ceramics. How I love this vibrant design that 'thanks' the summer of 2008 for its warmth. Gratitude on a plate!

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, Falkirk Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, FalkirkThe exhibition is in the Park Gallery, but Callander House offers plenty of interesting artefacts and historical details to browse. Of most interest for me were a mock-up vintage record shop, a sweetie shop, a printer's studio... And a tea room. (I recommend the 'Royal Scottish' blend.)

The grounds are peaceful and impressive for a wander - I stumbled into these two lovebirds and there were plenty of real ducks and swans too.

Callendar House, FalkirkFinally, this smiley face just had to be snapped #facesinthings!

Callendar House, FalkirkRob Ryan's exhibition 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet' runs until 4th September 2016, at the Park Gallery, Callendar House, Falkirk.

Rob Ryan 'Love Hasn't Even Got Started Yet', Park Gallery, Falkirk

Fairy Tale Fashion: 'Alice Day' down the rabbit hole

One golden afternoon on 4 July 1862, Charles Dodgson, an Oxford don, took the 10-year-old Alice Liddell and her sisters on a boating picnic up the River Thames from Folly Bridge in Oxford. To amuse the children he told them a story about a little girl, sitting bored by a riverbank, who finds herself tumbling down a rabbit hole into a topsy-turvy world called Wonderland...

Fairy Tale Fashion, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, New York

To celebrate 'Alice Day' (today, 2nd July) I'm sharing photos from the Fairy Tale Fashion exhibition that ran at the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, New York, at the start of the year.

It was my first visit to New York in February, and I discovered the exhibition by accident, Alice-like, when I wasn't looking for it. Immediately falling down the rabbit hole, I spent over an hour marvelling at the clever fashion interpretations of everyone's favourite fairy tales.

Beginning in the thick velvety drapes of a prickly 'forest' with Little Red Riding Hood, the exhibition lured me through a magical realm of to-die-for couture and the fantastical machinations of childhood fairy tale viewed through an adult lens.

I thought the paper mask for the face of the wolf was a clever, contemporary take on the theme. The jewelled velvet gown was sumptuous (Dolce & Gabbana), and the padded, vinyl-hooded cape was by one of my favourite designers, Comme des Garçons.

Next: Beauty & the Beast. The paper mask again denotes the beast (without relying on ugliness or the grotesque). In fact, he looks rather like a lion?

The detailing of the floral layers really caught my attention here, having been a 'corsage queen' in my day. These shoes in the form of furry 'beast' claws were a real wonder:

Fairy Tale Fashion, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, New York

Christian Louboutin's 'Alex' pumps embody the dynamic of beauty and beastliness. Taking the form of a lion's foot, their craftsmanship is extraordinary: the fur-like texture is created using dense embroidery, and the 'claws' are made from glittering rhinestones. Wow.

'I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!'

This Manish Arora dress (2008) was displayed in true fairy tale style with fabric playing cards, bunny mask and checkerboard tights.

I'm sure the real Alice would have been delighted and proud with this nod to Wonderland. Meanwhile...

Fairy Tale Fashion, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, New York

The Nicholas Kirkwood Alice shoe (2010) combines numerous Wonderland motifs, including the red roses favoured by the Queen of Hearts, a tiny tea set referencing the Mad Hatter's tea party, and the White Rabbit's pocket watch.

Fairy Tale Fashion, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, New York

The Swan Maidens: a huntsman observes seven swan maiden sisters as they remove their featured robes to bathe in the river...

The Swans were one of my favourite sequences as the blue lights and the dazzling costumes served to transport you right there to the lake, the 'black swan' evening dress taking centre stage. Signet to swan.

The Wizard of Oz is another classic tale, and I love the sleek, sexy lines of 'the witch' costume here, and of course, the much-coveted 'Lady Lynch' ruby slippers by Christian Louboutin.

Dorothy's were made from fashionable, late 1930's pumps adorned with sequins and rhinestones. A modern-day Dorothy would undoubtedly prefer shoes by Christian Louboutin...

I was stunned to discover the original slippers were in fact silver, only turning red to capitalise on the use of Technicolour in the original 1939 film. That's turned a million Dorothy-dreams on their heads then. (Off with their heads!)

Moving on, The Bear Prince is a story I'd never heard before.

I like the juxtaposition of lace in the female costume that contrasts with the rugged tweed and rough edges of the Princes' outfit, the caged head indicating a need for restraint.

Clearly red is symbolic of the battle between good and evil, right and wrong; daring, poisoned, passionate red - as if we didn't know that already.

Finally, one of my childhood favourites (though I think I've said this about them all) - The Snow Queen - with the best shoes of the exhibition (a close call to make) - and Sleeping Beauty in her embellished nightgown.

Snowflakes are linked to what the scholar Erica Weitzman refers to as the "frigid mathematical perfection" of the Snow Queen's world (Alexander McQueen evening dress, centre, 2008)

Meanwhile, mirrors are often symbols of vanity and frivolity (mirror, mirror, on the wall...), but here this mirrored Tom Ford dress (centre) and matching shoes offer a beautiful counterpoint to "the demon's nasty mirror shattering into millions and billions of bits".

What fabulous imagery; snowflakes and mirrors. Shattered snowflakes and mathematical mirrors. Mathematical snowflakes and shattered mirrors.

Fairy Tale Fashion, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, New York

The shoes for me were a huge part of the exhibition experience so I couldn't finish without including the hat made from shoes, the most stunning take on Dorothy's ruby slippers, or the pivotal element in Cinderella's story.

Fairy Tale Fashion, Fashion Institute of Technology Museum, New York

This design is by Stephen Jones (1997) and apparently he designed his collection around the plot of The Red Shoes, referencing the talismanic ballet pumps.

But really, they had me at 'Glass Slipper' (Noritaka Tatehana, 2014):

What a fantastical way to escape the responsibilities of real life and immerse in the glory of these costumes. The exhibition ran from January - April 2016, and I'm so glad I happened into it. It was obviously meant to be.

Fairy Tale Fashion was a unique and imaginative exhibition that examined fairy tales through the lens of high fashion. In versions of numerous fairy tales by authors such as Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen, it is evident that dress was often used to symbolize a character’s transformation, vanity, power, or privilege. Colleen Hill, associate curator, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York

Glasgow School of Art: Degree Show 2016

I was lucky enough to attend the preview of the Glasgow School of Art Degree Show last week, leaving with my head full of ideas and inspiration (wishing I was back at university myself with access to all that TIME and resource to freely CREATE and EXPERIMENT...) My favourite part? The textiles, of course.

I was really struck by Rosie Noon's collection; the sheer embroidery words that look like they've been scraped into skin. The details are texturally intricate with so many elements to draw the eye.

I wanted to know more about the themes surrounding this work, and luckily, Rosie details her starting point and inspiration:

My graduate embroidery collection was instigated by the discovery of a photograph album documenting the mysterious life of 'Silvia'. Inspired by the repetition of women in mid-century dresses standing against blurred, floral backgrounds, contrasted by handwritten annotation of places and dates, I looked to re-appropriate these qualities in creating a new story through collage aesthetic in drawing and textile processes.

This connection to the past through a single photograph is catnip to a writer, textile lover and diarist like myself! Gorgeous work.

Degree Show - Textiles - GSANext I was enthralled by the beautiful tactile surface elements in Penny Hewitt's work. She describes her collection:

Capturing the repetition and structures within organic form, closely exploring irregular repeat patterns.

The colours made me think of the fashion collection in my fictional novel, and I wanted to take these samples home and pin them to my wall!

Degree Show - Textiles - GSA

Degree Show - Textiles - GSAI couldn't help but see a buoyant jellyfish suspended here in Niamh Brannan's display, the clash of colours so riotous, playful, fun and daring.

Her collection puts me in mind of Mary Katrantzou prints in tactile form. Or a statement window display in a European capital? KaDeWe in Berlin springs to mind; a slew of designer handbags in matching jellyfish attire.

Degree Show - Textiles - GSA Degree Show - Textiles - GSAThese sponge-fronds attached to plastic tubing put me in mind of medical textiles and the innovations in that area. They would certainly make for 'fashionable arteries'!

Degree Show - Textiles - GSAThe crisp geometric folds and stitches in paper, fabric, leather and digitally cut vinyl designed by Rochelle McGuinness really caught my eye, their application mocked up in lampshades and reminding me of some of the Cubist ceramics for sale at the Kubista museum in Prague.

Degree Show - Textiles - GSAThe method of display that Eliza Glanville uses is so fresh, funky and playful. I love her collage work and sketches and how both these elements feed into her textile designs.

Degree Show - Textiles - GSAMore faces. I'm enthralled by faces! Katie O'Brien describes her collection:

Tufting, embellishment and fraying techniques are explored within distinctive arrangements of colour, composition and contrasting materials...

Degree Show - Textiles - GSAA knitted wire dress - 'entanglement' - by Kirsty Lamont:

Entanglement aims to challenge the perceived dichotomy between island and city life. Rather than seeing city life and Island life as two sides of a dichotomy I suggest that they are in fact far more interlinked than people suppose, and that they exist as an ‘entanglement’. Rather than viewing knitting in two halves with ‘traditional’ island knitwear on one side and ‘modern’ textile technology knitwear on the other, my aim is to create something more akin to a gradient where the two sides become enmeshed together in the centre.

Meanwhile, the intricate embroidery of Maja Bjork's collection is both fun and compelling.

Degree Show - Textiles - GSAThese kinds of textiles really excite me as I imagine them 50ft tall and billowing from the atriums of important buildings; tongue-in-cheek depictions perhaps of the people who reside inside?

After wandering the textile displays I ventured upstairs, passing gorgeous, architectural jewellery and spoons cast in silver made to resemble twigs. I spent the rest of the night exhausting my eyes, pointing at things, my mind whirring.

It was "an attempt to articulate" (super cool title).


20160616_191216Glasgow School of Art (GSA)  is indeed a hotbed of innovation. The Degree Show did not disappoint.