Frida Kahlo by Ishiuchi Miyako @ Michael Hoppen

May 20, 2015 § Leave a comment


Frida Kahlo may have died sixty years ago but her memory lives on and her status as an icon has firmly been cemented in the history books. Her self-portraits are striking in their honesty and Kahlo’s face is one that most of us will recognise instantly. There is currently a new exhibition of photographs in London, of which Frida is the subject. However, the artist’s physical body is absent from the images.

The photographs on display, which have been taken by Japanese photographer Ishiuchi Miyako, comprise of Kahlo’s clothes that have been displayed to us against neutral backgrounds. The photographer is concerned with the passing of time and in light of this it seems apt that we are not given the physical clothes to view, as these would be more vulnerable to deterioration. The photographs seem to ensure that the contents of Kahlo’s wardrobe are preserved, ensuring that they can be appreciated by future generations.

Normally, we are used to seeing fashion exhibitions that are filled with the clothes dressed on mannequins. This was not an option for these garments as they have been hidden away inside Kahlo’s Blue House since her death on the orders of her husband Diego Rivera. Miyako’s images are the first opportunity to see inside this room.

Amongst many items of clothing are brightly coloured dresses, gloves and shoes. Kahlo’s clothes are beautiful. Most of the garments celebrate Mexican tradition. They appear to be vibrant in colour, matching her artwork and personality. However, what really strikes me is just how much pain the artist must have constantly been in. While most of us know that Kahlo suffered from both emotional and physical trauma throughout her life, it is often easy to downplay this. Miyako’s images however, display the clothes that acted as the armor that hid Kahlo’s disabilities. Amid the images we see a wooden leg and heavily structured bodices that remind us that while Kahlo was creating breathtaking paintings and creating a reputation for herself, she was also a survivor of polio and a horrific car accident.

Miyako’s images are a beautiful and honest look inside the wardrobe of one of history’s most fascinating women. The exhibition simply cannot be missed.

Frida by Ishiuchi Miyako is on display at Michael Hoppen Gallery until 13 July

Hattie Stewart @ House of Illustration

May 6, 2015 § Leave a comment


I have been enamored with illustrator Hattie Stewart’s work since her collaboration with Australian accessories designer Poppy Lissiman. Stewart’s fashion industry oriented scribbles are bright and colourful, injecting a large dose of fun into a genre that can be serious and unapproachable. She is currently the first to have been selected for a series of illustrator commissions at the House of Illustration and has transformed the space into a garish (in a good way) and striking wonderland.

Stewart’s illustrations remind me of a mix of George Condo and Jeff Koons. The images on display comprise of advertising campaigns and magazine editorials from such brands as Calvin Klein and magazines like Dazed and Confused that have all been given a Hattie Stewart makeover. On top of these iconic images, the artist has appliquéd her own doodles. Black and white images become multicolored and the serious model expressions become wild and energetic. The figures have tongues drawn onto their mouths and graphic tattoos embellished onto their limbs. Stewart’s models are also given manicures – long talons in bright blues and reds. Dotting around the background are smiley-faced hearts and other fantastical characters poking their tongues out and gesturing at the viewer, drawing you in to their fantasy world.

The display is fun and the images are reminiscent of children’s cartoons with the use of bright colours and wacky facial expressions. Stewart’s drawings reach from floor to ceiling, having been collaged together in the style of large murals.

The show is a must for any fashion fanatic with such recognizable faces as Cara Delevingne, Naomi Campbell and Justin Bieber among those playing victim to Stewart’s glaring graffiti!

Hattie Stewart Adversary is on display at House of Illustration until 19 July

Tom Lewis @ Collectionaires

April 27, 2015 § Leave a comment


A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a unique pop-up shop in South Kensington. Inside the window are a series of pink creatures pulling obscure faces to the public and begging you to come inside and get to know them.

Collectionaires is a boutique that sells luxury Japanese clothing that is specially hand selected in Tokyo and sold exclusively in the UK by Collectionaires online and in a series of pop-ups. Those working in the store are passionate about their wares and able to tell customers about the designers and all of the garments that are for sale.

While the clothing is beautiful, what caught my eye was the artwork. As well as clothes, the pop-up is also playing host to the art of Tom Lewis, the creator of Burobbu, the pink character who I fell in love with in the window. Lewis’s work is for sale here in the form of watches, prints and sculpture – all of which have a strong Asian influence.

The pop-up is a unique fusion of design and art that provides a welcome sense of originality from what we are used to seeing in London. Despite the high-end designs, the atmosphere is extremely friendly and upon leaving, I was gifted my own miniature Burobbu, who now sits happily on my desk.

Collectionaires remains open for all of your Japanese sartorial needs with the injunction of pink mischief from Tom Lewis’s Burobbu at 46 Thurloe Street until 10 May

Hermes @ Saatchi

April 22, 2015 § Leave a comment


There have been at least four Hermes exhibitions since I started Gallery Girl (less than four years ago). You would think that the prestigious French fashion house, famed for it’s luxury accessories, would have tired of displaying their wares in an art environment in London. However, less than a year after their display at the Saatchi Gallery last May, they have returned to Chelsea for yet another extravagant display of their finery.

Unlike last year’s exhibition, which focused on illustrating the high level of craftsmanship that contributes to the Hermes wares and included craftsmen and women who work for the brand, this year’s show was a little different. The exhibition is titled ‘Hermes Wanderland’ and transports the viewer to another world – one that seems to have been highly influenced by the surrealists.

The display, which has been set in Paris and embodies the spirit of the ‘flaneur’ consists of eleven rooms and has 4,000 Hermes items on show. The exhibition is inconsistent, but in a good way. Each room is different, meaning that the viewer is constantly in a state of enforced ‘wander.’ One minute you find yourself in a bright and light room, then you find yourself walking through a white wardrobe and you land not in Narnia, but in a space of complete darkness.

The exhibition is not aimed just at women. In fact, the handbags and scarves that Hermes is most famous for appear to have taken a backseat in favour of walking sticks, pocket watches and umbrellas. These are displayed in such settings as isolated bars and cafes, as well as shop windows that have been filled with giant elephants, porcelain and china.

The show is a delight and must be enjoyed before it wanders elsewhere!

Hermes Wanderland is on display at Saatchi Gallery until 2 May and will then be relocated to Paris and Milan

Gallery Girl presents Hidden Visions

April 10, 2015 § Leave a comment


Those who follow me on Facebook will have noticed that the Gallery Girl page is hosting an exhibition. This show will open on Tuesday 14th April and run until Sunday 19th April in the Chelsea Gallery, inside Chelsea Town Hall.

The exhibition, which has been titled Hidden Visions is being staged in an attempt to address the talents of young artists from London and the home counties, who have been affected by mental illness and address it within their work.

The artists are: Maeve Buckenham, Miranda Chance, Darcy Keverian, Bethany Lamont, Stephanie Linne, Tom Plumptre and John Michael Taylor. The name Hidden Visions was chosen to title the show, as mental illness is invisible and very often concealed due to shame or fear caused by the negative stigma surrounding it. The word vision symbolises the notion that visions are very often mental, as well as the fact that the very nature of all art is visual.

The show consists of seven artists, both male and female who cover a range of conditions and media from photography to sculpture. Having suffered from anorexia myself, the idea for the exhibition was inspired by the magnitude of art exhibitions in London that addressed social issues concerning young people. These are often concern topics such as politics or feminism, however I had never seen anything addressing mental illness. The idea for Hidden Visions was spurred by the dissatisfaction with the stigma associated with mental health and lack of its exposure within the arts. I wanted to make people aware of mental health in a format that wouldn’t preach or try to complicate it with facts and figures. By using art as a tool, words are taken out of the equation. Hopefully the exhibition will provide a visual platform for the artists to express how mental illness has affected them and make people think about mental health issues in a different way.

The artists come from a wide range of backgrounds, some of whom have degrees in fine art whilst others are students of such contrasting disciplines as medicine and Chinese, with other artists who make their art outside of other careers, showing that mental health is something that affects many of us. National statistics from the Mental Health Foundation show that mental illness will affect one in four of us in our lifetime. The Time to Change campaign has explained that the portrayal of those suffering from mental health issues in the media are often shown as one of two extremes: as violent or ‘tragic victims’, with characters often being referred to in a discriminatory way. Hidden Visions aims to dispel these negative stereotypes by illustrating that those afflicted by mental distress should not be defined by their illness only.

Throughout history, many artists such as Frida Kahlo and Vincent van Gogh have been the target of mental maladies, yet it did not hinder their work. Thanks to funding from O2 Think Big, I have done my best to ensure that Hidden Visions will provide a different view of young people suffering from poor mental health, and I am certain that these incredibly talented artists will captivate you with their talent.

The exhibition will be on display at Chelsea Gallery, entrance via Chelsea Old Town Hall, King’s Road, Chelsea, London SW3 5EE from Tuesday 14 to Sunday 19 April.

For more information on the show and the artist’s taking part click here

Pangea II @ Saatchi

April 4, 2015 § Leave a comment


This time last year the Saatchi Gallery presented us with its Pangea exhibition of contemporary art from Africa and Latin America. The show seemed to be very popular, however, while much was written about it, there was one stand out work that eclipsed the rest of the art on display: Rafael Comezbarros’s ant installation. This year, Saatchi has again staged a show focused on the same part of the world but does it really surpass last year’s offering?

Like 2014, there is a large gallery on the ground floor that features one huge work. This space, which was overrun by the ants last year has now been recycled into the home of a giant blue structure made up entirely of bright blue plastic bags that have been stuck together by Jean-Francois Bocle, an artist from Martinique. The sea of crisp, clean, unused bags against the white walls seems to attract a lot of attention. For some reason, they are somewhat mesmerising, though I’m not sure anyone would be able to tell you why. Again, like last year, amid reviews and photo-articles, this is the one work that seems to be getting any attention.

The rest of the work on display seems to all blur into one after a while. The show, as is standard Saatchi fashion, is huge, and there is a lot to take in. There are some questionable paintings on display that contain disturbing imagery concerning Barbie-style dolls and tortoises as well as large abstract multi-coloured canvases.

Standout works for me include what might be termed ‘sculptures’ that are constructed of hanging trees, complete with roots. They may literally be likened to someone being uprooted from a culture and placed in a new context where they may not be fully assimilated yet – an artwork taken from a foreign land then replanted into the Saatchi gallery. I was also impressed by a set of canvases, which had been adorned with straw hats by Colombian artist Alexandre de Cunha, however this may be because I was wearing a very similar hat on the day I visited the exhibition and the likeness between the artwork and my outfit amused me greatly.

On the top floor of the Saatchi gallery, a small room has been filled with a piece of last year’s Pangea exhibition. Here we are again confronted with Comezbarro’s ants. It is as though the curators at Saatchi wanted to leave us a remnant of last year’s success, just in case we weren’t impressed with this years offering.

While I can’t say that I was particularly thrilled by the 2015 version of Pangea, there are some moments among the exhibition that are worthy of appreciation. The main problem that the Saatchi gallery has failed to learn from last year concerns the difficult of displaying work from such a large geographical space under one roof and trying to draw a link. Nevertheless, you may wish to take a visit, even if it is to see the ants again.

Pangea II is on display at Saatchi Gallery until 6 September

Cinderella @ Leicester Square

March 25, 2015 § Leave a comment


A pop-up exhibition like no other has landed in the heart of Leicester Square. A magical show has opened that reveals the history of one of Disney’s best-loved movies: Cinderella! It documents the fairytale’s history as well as revealing its modern re-incarnation in the form of the new movie starring Lily James.

The exhibition begins with a look at the 1950 original movie with interactive books and memorabilia from the much-loved film which is now over 60 years old! Here we get the chance to see illustrations for the film, many of which are very different in style from the finished product that we are all familiar with, but beautiful nevertheless.

Following the historical introduction we move into a world of sparkle. The following galleries present the costumes featured in the new film. These have been designed by Sandy Powell and adorned with over 1.7 million Swarovski crystals in the form of dresses, tiaras and accessories. The gowns are stunningly displayed on mannequins, which move like the dolls that can be found inside of musical jewelry boxes so that the viewer can admire them from every angle. These are presented alongside hand-drawn illustrations by Powell and the beauty of the display demonstrates exactly why she has already won 3 Oscars for her costume designs.

Also on display is a breath-taking Swarovski glass slipper that really looks like something that has come straight out of a fairy tale. As well as this is a stunning golden carriage that has been filled with a giant pumpkin.

This exhibition is magical and a perfect treat for the whole family. It has been presented by Swarovski and it is clear to see why they are keen to show their costumes off! The staff our keen to inform the viewers all about Cinderella’s history as well as the upcoming film. The best part is that the show is free and in my opinion is just as good, if not better than many fashion exhibitions that I have seen recently, it simply must be taken advantage of!

The exhibition is open in Leicester Square until 10 April and the release date for Cinderella in the UK is 27 March

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