Over the past two weeks, I've averaged a new exhibition every second day. From Mana Hatoum's electrified installations at the Tate Modern, Missoni's Art Colour exhibit at the Fashion & Textile Museum and even a private talk by Christopher Kane about a specially curated selection of fashion photographs with Phillips Auction house. With trips to the V&A and Tate Britain in between, it's safe to say - It's been a busy few days.
As I darted out of a workshop earlier this week, a colleague asked me, "Are you off to another gallery.... you really love your galleries don't you?" ... the truth is I do. That snarky coworker's comment aside, what's wrong with a little culture? The past week alone I'd sacrificed a few lunch breaks to make it across town to an exhibit and back again before my hour and a half lunch was up. Some mornings it meant getting up that extra hour earlier to make it to a press preview before work. Skipping breakfast or lunch to be fed by Art was fair trade. Plus coffee, pressed juice and champagne from previews is a matchmade in every gallery-hoppers heaven.
From Mana Hatoum's large-scale sculptures which pulse with an eerie glow and serve as commentary on the Middle East and humanity, to Missoni's more upbeat and riotous clashes of knit and colour juxtaposed against painting and sculpture inspired by the family's archive - there was a lot to take in.
Hey I could have done that...
In all my years of studying fashion and fine art, one thing (above all else) has been drilled into my head... get out your sketchbook, go to an exhibit and be inspired. Suffice to say, I've sat through more artist talks than I can count and heard more lectures on obscure installations or performance art from before I was born. Sometimes in a darkened lecture hall under the dim of an out-of-focus projector, a muffled "Hey I could have done that!" can be heard. I'll admit sometimes when you're on the 75th slide of a room filled with balloons or a pair of underwear embroidered with a funny slogan, I've thought to myself "If only I had the time - I could have done that too." But the whole crux of contemporary art is that while you COULD have done that... you didn't. You didn't think of filling a room with 100s of red balloons and calling it an installation, and there lies the difference.
I'm not saying I love every single piece of art inside every exhibit I see. There are the pieces that sometimes make me question, "how the hell did this get in a Museum?". But I try my best to appreciate something in the work I'm viewing. Often it is the time or special skill involved in creating what appears to be the simplest of ideas.
Seeking out and appreciating the beauty in everything has been one of my greatest takeaways from the countless hours I've spent in galleries. If a piece is well designed, and finished then surely there is something to learn from it. The human brain is like a sponge, you'd be surprised what sinks into your subconscious and later manifests in your work. Gallery hopping leads to mental screenshots, and those guide our taste - which in turn form our work.
The last thing I'll leave you with is this, the art of cross-referencing.
Just because you're into fashion - doesn't mean you have to limit yourself to fashion exhibits. In the furthest corners of the V&A I've found inspiration for fashion in stained glass windows, or sculpture.
If you're an architect, check out a fashion exhibit - you'd be surprised at how the construction of a garment can inspire your next project. If you're a photographer or painter why not visit botanical gardens and marvel at the greatest palette mixer of all ... mother nature.
Get out and see something new this weekend!