Speaking of art books… I’ve been meaning to do a post about the gown I created for Amanda Palmer’s upcoming art book which is being unleashed into the world next month. With the art tour just wrapping up last week, I figure this would be a perfect time for a review of the whirlwind tour it went on alongside the dozens of other fantastic creations made as part of this “cd art book” that’s quite unlike any other.
Painted with Thread
A while back, Amanda sent a preview of her upcoming “Theatre is Evil” album & from this, I ended up creating a piece inspired by her song “The Killing Type”. It meant a lot to me that Amanda was open-minded to having me create a piece of wearable art for this project as I believe clothing & accessory designs can be every bit as artistic as a painting or sculpture. Afterall, they tend to originate as an illustration, sketch, painting… & end up as something created to be a three dimensional sculpture made to conform to a body, to be filled and given life from within ~ to live to tell a story whilst never uttering a single word.
It all started out so innocently… well, sort of. Here is a progress shot of some of the pre-WWII (a nod to one of the song’s lyrics) lace I incorporated into the gown in it’s original, virginal white, along with a collection of freshly cleaned recycled bullet casings that came from a local shooting range (I took Q-tips to carefully remove all of the lead):
But then something rather dreadful happened… (macabre aftermath of the fabrics I hand-dyed to achieve a bloody effect):
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ From a mini-story I wrote that Amanda asked me to do for director Tim Pope: I envisioned a blood soaked gown, covered in a filmy layer of pale fabric to attempt to hide the blood a bit, and show some desperately clung to sense of innocence, but no matter how hard they tried, the secret hidden beneath the layers ultimately starts seeping through to the surface. This killer is ultimately a romantic sentimentalist ~ and the gown has been created from the final moments this person shared with their victims/beloved obsessions… The lace is from a pre-WWII wedding dress (perhaps once worn by the mother shown in the photograph they’d look at?), the feathers would have been carefully saved from the bird, and the bodice is decorated with spent bullet casings worn as though they were jewels. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Winging it all as I went along, I ended up utilizing a combination of hand dyed netting, vintage lace & velvet, recycled bullet casings, charmeuse, naturally shed & dyed feathers, pearlescent beads, and heirloom crochet to achieve the finished result shown in these preview shots. The bits of chain are all hand-linked from antique jump rings, connected to the crochet which I’d also dyed a sanguine hue. At one point, I started calling the gown “Bloody Mary”. The extra piece of tattered and dyed lace I’d wound around the neck which ended up looking like a blood-soaked, ethereal bandage of sorts, along with the fact that the gown ended up being shown in a series of art shows on headless dressforms just strengthened the ghostly feel:
Since the rest of the art for the book was more in the 2-dimensional realm & being shot in NYC, we needed to figure out how best to display it for the book. I put my thinking cap on, and here’s the incredibly atmospheric result ~ I love the vivid lusciously liquid feel of the red satin showing at the lower hem alongside the depth of detail coming through in the crimson lace:
Inspiration ~ √ Creation ~ √ Visual Capture ~ √ Now on to the Voyage…
Immediately after being photographed, the gown was shipped to NYC so it could be transported with the rest of the art to the first gallery show in Berlin! The art tour included stops in Berlin, London, Brooklyn, San Francisco, Los Angeles & Boston. I’d suggested in order to ease transporting things around that they might try crowdsourcing a dressform in the various cities, and sure enough, Amanda’s fans pulled through perfectly at each & every location. I rather enjoyed seeing the different styles of forms the gown was displayed upon in each of the different settings… and major thanks to SuperKate for doing such an exquisite & careful job with displaying it along the way.
So the first stop… June 12, BERLIN: An eerily haunting view of the traveling art show on its first stop in Berlin’s Platoon ~ thank you so much to Strangelfreak for the photo!:
Second stop… June 18, LONDON What a wonderfully spacious venue ~ especially with those exposed brick walls. My gown seems rather appreciative of its excellent view for taking in all of the other art :) (photo by Marjorie):
Full length view from Village Underground:
I love the “silent conversation” going on here (from Village Underground):
*Emily has since let me know this is her weighing up the possibilities of making off with the gown… it ~does~ look like it would fit ;)
Back across the ocean in Brooklyn! The magnificent, tentacular Walter Sickert whose raucously surreal art is also featured in the book & throughout the tour ~ you can see a wonderfully detailed in-depth post upon his own art here: http://www.sepiachord.com/index/?p=3270 My best guess in this shot is that he’d been debating whether to ask the gown to dance with him ~ to which I say, of course the answer is always yes!:
BOSTON: After LA, everything came back home this past week to Boston’s Middle East club! Here you get more photos since I was actually there ;)
My favourite part about this crowd shot is how the entire room is swirling with activity, but our friend Cheryl is the perfect bit of darkly enchanting calm at the centre of the maelstrom:
Come on Amanda, you know you really just want to try the dress on…
To that end, I made an appropriately unhinged “Killing Type” portrait of her in it:
This is perhaps one of my favourite views of the gown ~ as seen from Massachusetts Avenue (another song on the album!). Something about the layers of everything going on with the reflections on the window and the view into the interior is what’s captivating to me. Note the man in the background caught in perpetual consumption of his beverage… It’s all about the contrasts:
Reunited with the gown after its transinternational/continental adventure ~ oh, the stories it could tell at this point!
Amanda & I together ~ afterwards I noticed we both had an inadvertently serendipitous shimmering gold & black Chinoiserie theme going on that night:
Amanda wearing her silk brocade Kambriel Midnight Bustle, posing next to the Kambriel Killing Type gown… META moment. :) I had no idea she’d be wearing the bustle that night and it was really touching to see her show up in it.
Intense prelude to Amanda’s performance art of “The Killing Type”:
“Who Killed Amanda Palmer?” Umm, yes… I ended up with the Killing Type/Trout Heart Replica (one of the most heart-rending songs on the album) knife at the end of the night since it was the last show of the tour ~ Thanks Amanda! She was giving away the “percussive props” at the end of the night to those who could tell her stories convincing her to give it to them (though I suspect she was just sweet and gave them to each person who asked regardless). Most of the props were plastic buckets, along with the wood cutting board used in a dramatic rendition of “Trout Heart Replica” for slicing a beet which represented the tiny, ruby red heart of a fish that humbly asked for just one more day… I asked her about the knife, not figuring it would be included along with the other items, but she said yes right away, so I repaid her with a terrifying story from my youth which tied in with it rather well. When I went to get the knife from her drummer @Quilken, he immediately asked, “Wow! What story did you have to tell to get the knife?!”. I re-told the story to him (it’s a personal one, but it was 1 AM and had been a very long day, so why not…) and afterward, he immediately went back to get the knife for me and even meticulously made a protective sheath for it out of double-layered tape. *Macquyver would be proud*
Is it disturbing just how happy I am wielding it here?? Hilarity ensued when I was waiting behind a group of people who were in line to talk to Amanda so I could ask her to sign the knife before we left (she was wonderfully generous with her time by waiting around after the show and sitting and talking with each and every person for as long as they liked ~ I’d never seen that before at “a signing”, this was really more of an “interaction” ~ completely not-rushed, filled with genuine connections being made between people) and they turned around only to see me standing there with a big grin and an equally big knife! I’m pretty sure that’s the only time I’m going to be able to do that at a show and have it be ~perfectly o.k.~ ;)