Using a garment in a performance or as a piece of art dictates the context for the human figure. This language of Clothing can be universally interpreted: often conveying identity. Clothing as art requires manipulation, stretching, redesigning and altering, moving away from the conventions of clothing and offering a dialogue for the disobedient.
‘ClOak’ takes a practical garment, a promenading coat, worn by middle and upper class ladies as industrialisation brought prosperity and wealth to the UK, the beginning of industrialised consumption of the natural world augmented a process that has been evolving for thousands of years. So we now find ourselves, as William Morris and others feared, staring in the face of environmental disaster.
The areas that are presently bearing the brunt of global warming are far from the densely populated regions of the western world such as the Polar Regions, the ice caps and the rainforest, making the majority of us are blind to the consequences. We are also equally unaware of the falling rate of global biodiversity, the benefits of the species that we have lost or will lose imminently. Species that are intertwined in the subtle and amazing processes that could be integral to supporting life. Some known to science, but it is believed that the majority are not.
The fear of pulling the rug from under our industrialised economy leaves us unwilling to even try, research, believe or explore alternative ways and processes that don’t consume, alter or destroy our environment. I feel that we have stalled politically, finding ourselves inconsequential as individual consumer, overwhelmed at the scale of the global task and so we are left willingly in denial of the predicament of global warming.
We are recreating landscapes as a consequence of our political leader’s apathy towards the environment, high-lighting the absolute importance for social disobedience to break these present political conventions.
The native English oak tree can support 283 individual species at any one time.
Each, a creature of incredible form, life and integrity.
All, individually named trailing the figure,
A dress based on a Victorian style promenading coat,
Hooded, protected, leading, dragging, consuming
A performance, fusing costume and a walk in the woods.
‘ClOak’ reflects on the importance of biodiversity and specifically that which is supported by indigenous hard wood trees within an ecosystem. It is made out of fabric that has been painted with the shadows of tree branches. As the elongated promenading style coat is worn in the woods it gathers debris from the leaf litter on the woodland floor, that clings to an under felt that lines the train, dragging with it a series of tails that list the 283 species (excluding mites and lichens) that can inhabit an oak tree. This knowledge of how much life the British Oak can support in our temperate climate we can get a sense of how great the indigenous hard wood trees are of the tropical rainforest where there species count is in the thousands.
Walked through Bath the piece will arrive into the gallery, where a trail will be left, a path of names, like the pebbles and bread of Hansel and Gretel, once consumed not able to be retraced.