Wednesday, 31 December 2014

EXHIBIT: MEETING THROUGH POP ART | PART I

Before Christmas I took a trip to visit Saatchi's 'East meets West' and the Royal Academy's Anslem Keifer exhibition.
Celebrating the multitude of art in China, the former Soviet Union, Taiwan, the UK and the USA, some 250 works in the Saatchi reflect the individuality and vibrancy of the 20th c. Pop Art movement.

Split into 6 themes, spread over different floor spaces and rooms, there was a real sense of an understanding of the culture of the time.  Habitat; Advertising and Consumerism; Celebrity and Mass Media; Art History; Religion and Ideology; Sex and the Body - it seemed no element of society was left unrepresented!

Considering Pop Art is such an iconic contemporary movement with the works of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, mass produced in every form of consumer goods and studied in schools, they have become the epitome of everyday culture.   Typically when I think of Pop Art, I immediately imagine soup cans, comic strips, celebrity icons all repeated in a series of bold colours.  Yet the exhibition displayed the diversity of the movement, examining Western art with its Eastern counterpart 'Sots Art'.  From my overall experience at the exhibition, I felt it intriguing to see how the art from bipolar nations during the Cold War shared similarities; exploiting familiar imagery to connect with the viewer, generating influential movements paving the way for a new generations of artists.
Political Activist Ai Weiwei's 'appropriated' 2,000 year old Han dynasty Urn's dipped in industrial paint, serves to critique the Chinese State's destruction of the historical during the 'Cultural Revoultion'.
'Three Ball Total Equilibrium Tank' by Jeff Koons is part of the series 'Equilibrium' underpinning the commercial value and commodification of objects into art.

On first view, Koon's piece seems it has been similarly composed to Damien Hirst's 'Natural History' collection, using a solution of formaldehyde to preserve the basketballs within the centre of the tank.  Surprisingly, this is not the case.  Using the laws of physics and chemistry - with the aide of physicist Richard P. Feynman, the basketballs are floating in the centre of nothing less than distilled water.  Due to the nature of water as a fluid, the basketballs will slowly move around.  Initially created with equal distance between each ball, over time they gradually move to sink to the bottom.  No doubt if you were to visit them now, they would be in completely different positions, reflecting the inability as humans to control their constant state.
It was only after researching Xu Zhen, did I realise I had seen the name before.  A few years back I had visited the Hayward Gallery, London to see the 'Art of Change' exhibition, displaying the 'new direction' of China's art.  Leading the show, Xu's work 'Performa' was mind-boggling impressive, presenting the illusion of people frozen in gravity-defying tilted positions.

Just as impressive but in a completely different form, Xu Zhen's 'Made-In Company' mixed media canvases were particular works which captured my attention.  Textile mixed media develops bold and textural compositions which Xu's application of embroidery and layers have achieved through the creation of overcrowded collages mapping society.  Having incorporated elements of textiles into my own work, I can just imagine the attention to detail in stitching must have been incredibly time consuming! Leaving absolutely no negative space, the chaos created by the plethora of actions occurring in the scene, means there's always something new to discover - reminiscent of 'Where's Wally' books or those impossible puzzles you receive at Xmas!
Walking into a room overwhelmed by 188 national flags lit in ambient light, was a stark contrast to the other Pop Art works displayed around the gallery.  Created by Chinese artist Gu Wenda, the 'United Nations - Man and Space' installation is an astonishing sight, completely made out of human hair. An ambitious project, Gu's piece used hair from around four million people, to demonstrate his interpretation of humanity united.

Artist's reworkings and homages to Duchamp's 'Fountain' and Warhol's 'Soup Can' were also displayed in dedicated rooms.  Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melmaid's Post Art series involving Warhol's iconic can, displays his work as if it had survived a war.  Both Russian artists who helped establish 'Sots Art'; a wave of Soviet noncomformist art, I felt this piece also reflected the repression and degredation of the people living under the Iron Curtain.


Kat 

Monday, 29 December 2014

BOOKS ARE MY BAG

beginnings of new illustrations


Merry belated Christmas! Its been a while.

As Emin promotes, books are indeed my bag.  I would still rather have a weighty book to physically flick through, than an intangible digital copy.  So, adding to my evergrowing-overflowing-shelving of literary and artistic books, I received some amazing hardbacks this Christmas.  

Mostly in illustration and fashion referencing, it has inspired me to do so much more in sketched fashion and designs to post here on my blog.


I've dabbled in some illustration beforehand but for 2015, I can't wait to incorporate more sketches and designs onto Collar Block!

Kat x

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

EXPLORING NEW MEDIUMS: PYROGRAPHY

'Writing with fire'.  Its amazing what can be achieved with burning into wood, more commonly known as Pyrography.
If you follow my instagram, (if not, you're missing out!) you may have seen my first attempt at etching into wood.

|I chose a rep of Bambi - keeping a woodland and nature feel theme |



Using only a basic kit I picked up in hobbycraft - a Kirstie Alsopp craft kit no less, I am amazed at the results and effect Pyrography creates.  Once I found my feet, after getting to grips with using the different pen nibs and developing a way of shading, I found using wood and 'fire' an interesting alternative to drawing on pen and paper.

| Etching out the initial outline |

| Adding in the shading |


The set I bought provided a variety of nibs to choose from; including those to draw with and decorative tools.  For the shading, I used a decorative nib which etched in multiple lines I could build up for depth.

Kat x

Saturday, 1 November 2014

AUTUMN FAVOURITES '14

Following on from my last post,  it seems I'm ready for A/W!  Here are my favourite go-to outfits so far this season.
| TWEED SKIRT - M&S | FLORAL SKIRT - Urban Outfitters (sale) |
I recently purchased the tweed skirt above, adding to my ever growing collection of pencil skirts! This '60's mod' style mini I find so flattering and comfy to wear, plus they're a nice change to black skinnies this time of year!
| JUMPER - M&S | CIGARETTE PANTS - ASOS | DRESS - River Island | POLO NECK - M&S|

I absolutely LOVE this houndstooth dress!  It has a very loose skater/swing style cut and the long sleeves give that added warmth when its a little chilly.

Never dismiss a shop! I wouldn't typically shop in M&S for clothes but they've recently made a turn around in some of their fashion.  Their Limited collection has some great wear for A/W, like the roll neck jumper above and you can't beat their basics! 


The brown sheepskin coat I wore LOADS last year and its another guaranteed staple this year.  The grey coat is a new addition,which has an 80's style cut, giving a much looser fit in the arms and body. Sheepskin coats can be a little pricey, so hunting for one in vintage/thrift/charity shops could lead you to a great find!

Layered jewellery in a mixture of gold and silver I'm pairing with lots of outfits this season.  Hoop earrings are another favourite which I'm hoping to get more in a variety of sizes.
| SHOES - KG Carvela(sale) | LOAFERS - Office |

Finally fave shoes! These were the first Kurt Geiger shoes I've ever bought and they are so comfy to wear all day! They have a nice chunky heel but still look feminine and look great teamed with the skirts above.

Patent loafers, or even anything patent for that matter, isn't something I particualrly go for. However, I love these loafers from Office! Beautiful oxblood colour and just so lovely to wear!

Kat x



Thursday, 30 October 2014

TOP AUTUMN WEAR '14

Perusing online (uh oh) there are some amazing clothes to buy but just too many to choose from!  So from my searching, here are my top picks for A/W.
| COAT - Urban Outfitters | CARDIGAN - Asos |
| DRESS - Missguided |
| BOOTS - Shellys London | TURBAN - Asos | FEDORA - Topshop |

Coats, cardigans, dresses, skirts that fall longer down the body, are a real favourite of mine this season.  Worn with chunky heels or boots, these lengthy items will elongate the body, giving the illusion of looking taller - if you're not already tall!

I'm also loving the variety of hats available; cossacks, fedoras, turbans, etc.  Adding interest and texture to an outfit whilst keeping your head warm!

What's your favourite items for Autumn?

Kat x


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

VINTAGE DRESSING



What seems a like a lifetime ago, I did a bit of vintage shopping in one of my favourite cities, Bath.  I've popped into vintage shops here and there but I'm still pretty new to buying 'old' - the extent of most of my vintage collecting has been raiding mum's wardrobe!
But since Bath has a fab collection of boutique and independent vintage shops, it was great to explore vintage further.

The dress above is a beautiful 1970's wrap dress I bought alongside the matching belt, from an amazing little shop called Scarlet Vintage. I instantly fell in love with this dress, since its so versatile for day and night.  Matched with a leather jacket, boots or heels, its going to be a great number for this season's parties!

Kat x

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

INKY INSPIRATION

I've never had one favourite artist, there are just too many to choose from!  Hence, finding new and exciting artists always interests me; learning of new conceptual ideas, fueling inspiration for the next art project!

Recently, I came across an Italian artist, Alberto Seveso, who creates unique ink explosions in water and photographs to capture the fluidity and the beautiful movement of colour within the explosions.

Using photoshop and also working as an illustrator, his work - especially his portraiture work - suggests he is breaking down images to unveil the different layers with fluid and interlocking shapes; almost having an 'evaporated' quality.
'Disastro Ecologico IV' 
Image: burdu976.com


The subtle and calming colour scheme, particularly the use of mauve and combinations of blues and pinks in his work, add a mystical feeling .  Highlighting the softness of the shapes formed; creating connotations of clouds.

Used on many album covers, such as Temper Tramp, Seveso's inky explosions create a bold statement whilst maintaining an element of delicacy in the shaping of the clouds.

I had a go at creating my own inky clouds.  Filling a jar with boiled water, I gradually dripped in various colours of food dye to build layers of colour and capture cloud explosions forming.  Here are the results...




The process is great to watch and probably most effective as a video to watch the clouds fully develop.   




Food dye is actually quite effective! Although the clarity of the cloud was hard to achieve, the close-up is not too bad for household materials!  Using the correct lighting and a clear background, I reckon these homemade ink cloud developments could make for really effective photographs.

Further inspired by his work, flicking through some old magazines I found an article reflecting Seveso's work. Used as a conceptual presentation for perfume bottles, I thought it was very fitting to suggest the smells and essences of perfume.



What do you think of Seveso's work?

Kat x

Thursday, 21 August 2014

HEADSCARVES | 5 WAYS

As much as I'm enjoying the summer and holidays, a new term and autumn is just round the corner.  Soon it will be time to trade in strappy cami's, sandals and shorts for more warming jumpers and jeans.  But for now there are some great transitional trends to wear before you layer up the thermals!

A trend that has been in and around shops recently and is set to continue for A/W 14, is hair accessories.  Particularly Headscarves.  There are a multitude of ways to wear headscarves and with my top picks from ASOS, I hope this gives you some ideas on how to wear the trend!


For a simple way to embellish a dull ponytail, tie a headscarf into a draping bow around the hair band. Great for giving the illusion of voluminous hair!


Turbans are a dramatic addition to an evening outfit and look perfect worn with a kimono.  Metallic colours, satin fabric and bohemian hair is a must!


For a casual vibe or to give an edge to an outfit, bandannas are an onset trend you'll easily find in the shops.  Wear with a messy updo for a laid back look.

Bow Scarf |

I love this sheer scarf which looks so dainty tied into a bow! Wear like an Alice band with a pretty tea dress or smock, for a very cute and feminine look .


It's not just your hair which can wear this trend! Add some chic to a plain bag with a scarf of your choice - a great way to match your accessories with your outfit.

Which is your favourite look? I'm totally going to be wearing headscarves more this A/W!

Kat xxx



Sunday, 17 August 2014

PoW: PEP HEM/LOW WAIST DRESS

These low waisted dresses first came to Fashion's attention when Victoria Beckham sported an oversized grey number earlier this year.  I've come to love this style for its laid back take on the skater dress and I find it an effortless and light piece to wear in the hot sun. I recently bought this navy dress from Primark, which I can really experiment with using various accessories.

My favourite way to style this dress is with a leopard print scarf and a pair of Birkenstocks.  Adding a small shoulder strap bag and some sunnies, it made the perfect outfit for a Sunday lunch out!

Also to note, there are some sweet pop hem dresses designed for dressy occasions, with bold embellishments and prints.  I'm loving this tailored Jacquard Pep hem from ASOS in mint.

What's your Pick of the Week?

Kat xxx


Sunday, 10 August 2014

SS14 SCRAPBOOK || HIDDEN TRESAURES


Continuing with combining modern trends and traditional Sicilian themes, Dolce and Gabbana adorned their models with golden coins for accessories, combined with prints of ancient crumbling columns or delicate floral work. The flowing and flared outfits reflect a style D&G have channeled for several seasons, yet decorated with historic currencies, it has fast become a key trend of S/S 14.

Not that I have yet seen anyone wear a large coin in the form of a belt, D & G also displayed coins as prints on clothing, hair pieces and on decadent hoop earrings.  Which, the high street has translated coins also into dainty necklaces and bracelets, allowing us to create our own little treasure box of coins.


| Designer Inspiration || Dolce & Gabbana |

Styling up an outfit with a statement coin piece or choosing smaller, delicate pieces, the High Street has plenty of trinkets to choose from!

BIG MONEY || bold features

Tiger Coin Necklace - ASOS |
| Voyager Coin Necklace - Forever 21 |
| Freedom Found Necklace - TopShop |

Wear simply with a plain top and shorts, teamed with strappy sandals.  Or wear with an evening maxi dress for a glamorous feel.

STACKED COINS || layered items

| Cuff Bracelet - ASOS |
| Traveler Necklace - Forever 21 |
| Drop Earrings - ASOS |

For Festival style fashion; kimono, boots, lace top, stacked bracelets.

A PRECIOUS COIN || simple, delicate pieces
| Mini Choker - TopShop |
| Engraved Coin - TopShop |

Either wear with a flowing tea dress for a girly touch or toughen up with a crop top and ripped jeans.

Kat xxx

Thursday, 31 July 2014

SPORT LUXE | 5 OUTFITS


Some trends over others last seasons, re-interpreted, shaped and co-ordinated to have a fresh outlook.  The sporting trend is by no means one of these and seems a staple for spring/summer wear.

For 2014, Sports Luxe is more laid back, loose baggy vests layered and mesh basketball tops as over layers as seen at Tommy Hilfiger.  What's key to this look? Bold colours, jackets emblazoned with numbers and sporting brands, plus an outfit would not be without a pair of flashy trainers!

Inspired by my love of trainers and this season's catwalk shows, here are 5 ways to wear trainers this summer!


1 | CASUAL DENIM



| Dress - TopShop | Striped Top - Zara | Socks - TopShop | Trainers - Nike | Sunglasses - Primark | Bangles - Misc. | Watch - Casio |

I've been loving shift dresses lately and in particular this denim number from TopShop I bought last summer. Denim is not usually associated with the sports trend but works well in creating a more day-to-day outfit with a sporting feel.  On cooler days, adding a striped top as an under-layer adds a bit of pattern into the outfit, which makes for a more striking ensemble.

The real focus of this outfit was the trainers.  Black trainers aren't usually my favourite look, however once I tried these ones on recently, they seemed a more versatile shoe for styling. This particular style is the Nike Air Relentless, I'd say their a little similar to Nike's Air Max, just a little less chunky. The neon pink and blue in the shoes add more colour to the outfit, with the blue highlighted by the denim dress.

For accessories, thin bangles and brown sunnies tie in the rucksack to the outfit and for a more feminine feel, ruffle socks in black and cream tie in with the striped top.

2 | MONOCHROME



| Top - TK Maxx | Skirt - River Island | Bag - TopShop | Gold Necklace - Claires | Multi Necklace - TopShop | Bangle - USC | Sunglasses - H&M | Trainers - Nike |

If colour is not really your thing, then sporting a monochrome look can still look effective in the summer time. For this outfit I teamed a loose baseball tee with a leather pencil skirt and my Nike's.  For a slight pop of colour however, I pieced the outfit with a subtle red bag and gold jewelley.  If you wanted a slightly more Urban look, layer up chunky necklaces to make a statement.

Whether for a daytime look or to be worn in the night, the choice of accessories are certainly key for this outfit!

3 | CO-ORDS



| Jacket - Zara | Shirt - Thrifted | Shorts - Nike | Bangles - Primark | Bag - Thrifted | Shoes - Nike |

Coordinating items are an on trend feature for this summer. For this outfit I attempted to create an informal co-ord piece, with this Zara bomber jacket and matching colour shorts. Sticking to a one colour scheme can also be quite effective, in this case shades of blue, but if one colour seems a bit much, adding in neutral colours like cream and nudes for the shirt can lift the outfit.

The accessories I wanted to be understated, so a few think bangles add some detail to the outfit, yet are not overpowering.  The bag I have used works well if this outfit was to be worn in the evening, so for the daytime I would pair the outfit with a small black rucksack.

4 | FEMININE




| Shirt - New Look | Scarf - Boutique | Cardigan - Thrifted | Shorts - Joules | Shoes - Kitson | Sunglasses - Primark |

This look has a more Parisian style to it and takes the sporting trend in a more feminine form. A scarf can be a great accessory in the summertime as well as in the winter, doubling up as a shawl on cooler evenings, just wear a lighter scarf than those chunky knits!

An alternative to denim shorts and to make shorts seem a more smarter wear, high waist tailored shorts, like the Joules ones above are great for the summer.  They add more shape to the outfit and would be perfect for evenings out or more formal occasions.

5 | 80's THROWBACK



| Top - Mat De Misane | Jeans - TopShop | Bracelet - Laura Ashley | Sunglasses - H&M | Shoes - Converse | Belt - Thrifted | Bag - FatFace |

What would Sport Luxe be without a pair of Converse?  A modern day staple item, this outfit incorporates the much loved Converse in an 80/90's feel, with a classic pair of 'Mom' jeans and striped vest.  Lately, I've been wearing outfits much like this one and on hotter days, I have swapped the jeans for a pair of denim shorts.  This is quite a simple outfit to piece together but still a great casual outfit to spend the day in.

Whether you're going to go head to toe with the Sport Luxe trend or just team an outfit with a pair of trainers, there is a multitude of ways you can make the trend your own.  It's not just limited to the gym!


Kat xxx