Crafting anatomies through art and design 22 December 2014

The body becomes the centre of a provocative exhibition which, through a selection of visionary artworks, will explore how the human form has been crafted, interpreted and re-imagined in historical, contemporary and future contexts.

Crafting Anatomies brings together an intriguing collection of exhibits by national and international artists and designers who explore the body through the themes of material, performance and identity.

Dr Katharine Townsend, Reader in Fashion and Textile Crafts at Nottingham Trent University, is co-curating the January exhibition alongside Dr Amanda Briggs-Goode, Head of Department for Fashion, Textiles and Knitwear, and Rhian Solomon, Researcher from The Creative Textiles Research Group. They have devised the project and exhibition to provide an opportunity for artists and makers to investigate the body and its meaning in contemporary society’.

Considering skin as a material, designer Amy Congdon is fascinated by a future world where materials are not made but are grown and luxury goods are fashioned from skin cells, not fabric. Her work, Biological Atelier, imagines the sorts of jewellery and adornments that could be created, in the near future, through biotechnology.

“With one of the most controversial sets of materials becoming available for manipulation, that is our body and those of other species, it could be argued that future fashion could be grown from the ultimate commodity,” she said.

Attention shifts to how the body performs for the Human Harp project, by London-based artist Di Mainstone, who has created a piece of body sculpture which literally turns the wearer into a human harp. When attached to the wires of a suspension bridge, the garment allows the wearer to ‘play’ the bridge by translating the structure’s vibrations into sounds.

Artist Amanda Cotton, who gained press attention for her photo frames made out of placentas, will be showing her work Portrait as part of the exhibition. Portrait is a visual diary created from face wipes that the artist used during a three-month period to remove the make-up and natural oil from her face, questioning whether this “mask” is indeed dirt or beauty.

“It is my belief that the by-products of the human race hold equal value aesthetically, to their raw material origins,” said Cotton. “Through critical engagement with my own body’s materials I have crafted a ‘body of work’ that questions people’s preconceptions and explores notions of aesthetic beauty and value.”

Researchers from Nottingham Trent University, whose work draws from and enhances the body, will also exhibit their work. These include senior lecturer and respected couture pattern-cutter and knitwear designer Juliana Sissons.

She will be exhibiting examples of her work that focus upon the fashioning of garments using plastic surgery cutting techniques which she has developed from observations of surgeons at work in the operating theatre.

Sissons began developing surgical processes for fashion through her collaboration with Rhian Solomon and the sKINship project, which is concerned with promoting collaborations between reconstructive plastic surgeons and pattern cutters for fashion.

Her work also explores research into ‘Langers Lines’ – a visual mapping of the grain of skin, used by plastic surgeons. She hopes to consider the benefits of this research for swimwear and body contoured clothing ranges.

Alongside artworks on display, the exhibition will feature a series of historical films concerned with the ‘crafting of anatomies’ from The Wellcome Trust’s film archive and from local historical collections.

Crafting Anatomies will be in the Gallery from Wednesday 7 January until Wednesday 4 February.

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