When I entered 2014, I found myself looking back and reflecting on all the things I could have done more, or should have started earlier, or was stupid to waste my time on (as we all do). I also picked myself up with thoughts of all the things that do continue to inspire me regularly, like the communities we are blessed to work within the charity I co-direct. The talented individuals I meet every year that bring so much change in our world today, through little creative but permanent steps. I didn’t make any resolutions as such, but what I did tell myself was that I would try to be more responsible in the way I live and slow things down.
We all go through phases of wanting to do more for the environment that we live in or say more about the changes to the planet and the uncontrolled destruction of it caused by insatiable greed and irresponsibility. I find myself wanting to do this often… wanting to challenge the status quo in how we dress, eat and live our lives and its direct impact on the world we live in. And as expected, I fail… it happens every time I buy clothes from shops I know fuel pressures on countries whose ability to monitor and control health and safety is swamped with an overwhelming desire to keep making those pounds and dollars. I fail every time I stock up on food which I could easily grow at home. I fail every time I pick up something without checking how it was made, and whose livelihoods it has supported or destroyed, and how many plants and animals may have suffered in the process of its production and delivery to me. Fortunately I grew up with a degree of awareness on these matters, but not wearing fur and attempting to be a vegetarian for the millionth time and cutting down on where I shopped and found alternatives or made my own clothes… were good but realistically how sustainable were they and would that mean I give up on things I really do love and am drawn to?
I felt a need to readdress my approach. To really understand my consumption habits and work around them to make small sustainable steps rather than drastic bold moves that rarely make the long term impact that is needed.
So in 2014 – I want to buy less, live more, slow things down, and live responsibly. This does not mean eating kale at every meal, sleeping in a smock and not washing my hair or giving up on the little pleasures and vices I have. But seeking timeless pieces which are made from ethically sourced materials and recycling pieces I already have to work with the aesthetics that appeal to me most. I hope this year we will cease to be styled by the same “cookie cutter” and will continue to push for originality. We will continue to buy second hand or ethical clothing. We will live so that the fairness is sincerely brought back to the ‘fair trade’. We will value what we buy and ensure it is less about the current seasons but more about who we are… and if it is following the season, then it reflects a sense of understanding and respect for the planet, and our purchases are responsible and kind. We will nod positively towards this new concept of ‘slow society’, which will break us out of our media-driven daydreams and consumer driven realities.
On this note, I bring you two artists who inspire me. With current fashion trends for spring and summer pointing us towards either the folksy or the pale pinks, or the ‘artsy’ and ‘art school’ (as the new coined terms for these style reference points), I decided to look at real artists and designers who go beyond this seasonal direction and are earnestly working towards celebrating the living and the continuity of the dead.
I first came across Roa a few years ago, on Hanbury Street. Bricklane, London. He was taking a break from spraying a building sized crane on a bare wall of a block of offices.
Roa is a graffiti artist from Belgium. ROA usually uses a minimal colour pallet like black, white and red, but also creates works using vibrant colours depicting flesh and/or internal systems within the animals and birds. He loves the irregularity of buildings and finding ways to work with them and feels they bring something unique to his depictions of animals in the process of life; mating, eating, sleeping, dying, and decaying. He is interest in the scavengers and little creatures that he sees as ‘survivors’. He tries to bring them in the urban landscape but in a way which makes us question our own existence in this system, taking the horrific and bringing a sense of beauty and understanding to these moments of natural process. I’m a huge fan of Roa, and his work has inspired me in a number of ways.
On the topic of spring fashion, and stepping a little sideways from the catwalks focus on nature, Billy Bayer, a new York based designer, like Roa, is also moved by the cycles of life. His work is far from the saturated images of skulls which punctuate every corner of our shopping experience, from cheap scarves in markets with white skulls printed on them, to luxury brands creating them with crystals and silk. Billy looks at living creatures with the eye and sensitivity of an artist who is as passionate about his craft as he is about the creatures he depicts. What really appealed to me, and ties in with my consumerist ‘resolutions’ of the year, is his focus on ensuring all pieces are original design carvings designed, and created in his NYC studio using local resources. Most of the work is cast in purified reclaimed metal. His goal is to provide you with unique quality collectable pieces and a foster a lasting artist/collector relationship. His attitude is genuine and sustainable creating unsettling and strange pieces, combining found objects with gold, silver and diamonds. He was featured in Vogue Spain in 2010 under the ‘Artists’ category. I truly love this man’s craft. Timeless. Sustainable. Beautiful.
Check these guys out. Buy responsibly. Be kind to all that breaths.