Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion is the first cultural event to contribute to the London 2012 festival – the 12 week nationwide celebration running alongside the capital’s Olympics. The exhibition is a collaboration with five bodies including the V&A, the Mayor of London and the British Fashion Council joining forces with top fashion designers and contemporary artists: Giles Deacon, Sir Paul Smith and Mat Collishaw are just some of the many individuals to take part. Sleek caught up with curator Susanna Greeves and artist Jess Flood-Paddock, whose collaboration with Jonathan Saunders materialised into 200 colourful screen prints on polypropylene screens.
Sleek: Why is the V&A better positioned than other institutions to hold such an exhibition?
Greeves: It’s really the perfect setting. Not only have the collections here provided inspiration for both artists and designers but it’s a place where fashion has a home and so does design, craft and art. At the V&A all of these things are shown together in a non-hierarchical way.
What have you found unique about these artist-designer collaborations?
I think what’s different about this project is the way that people have worked together. Of course the fashion and art world have come together in a variety of ways for a long time and on many occasions but what’s different here is the concept of co-authorship. Right from the original idea through to execution we’ve asked two people to make one work rather than a fashion designer commissioning an artist to contribute a design to a bag or dress, or a fashion designer crossing over into the art world. Here, we were inviting them into a new space beyond the boundaries of their own sectors.
How did you get involved with Britain Creates?
Flood-Paddock: I was invited by the Fashion Council and asked if I would be interested to work with a fashion designer. The beginning was very open. They asked me if I had any interest in fashion to start with and which designers I’d be interested in working with. I knew Jonathan’s work and so I was hoping to work with him from the beginning.
What was the biggest challenge working with Jonathan Saunders?
It was really the practical side. Just finding enough time to meet. We didn’t have any arguments or any drama it was just about getting our studios to be free at the same time.
How did you come up with the name Life?
It’s a tongue-in-cheek title. We’d been talking about not wanting to add any levels of meaning to the work that weren’t there and we wanted it to be down to earth. Every time we said it to each other we got the giggles and so we couldn’t get rid of it.
The nine collaborations are on display in the V&A’s main entrance. The pairs are Hussein Chalayan and Gavin Turk, Giles Deacon and Jeremy Deller, Stephen Jones and Cerith Wyn Evans, Stephen Jones and Cerith Wyn Evans, Nicholas Kirkwood and Simon Periton, Peter Pilotto, Christopher de Vos and Francis Upritchard, Jonathan Saunders and Jess Flood-Paddock, Paul Smith and Charming Baker, Matthew Williamson and Mat Collishaw.
BritainCreates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion
V&A, London, until July 29 2012