As it is the 1st February, 2013 I have decided at the end of a busy month to look back at how I spent the arrival of the 1st January 2013. On New Year’s Eve I went to the Hogmanay Ball at the Chelsea Arts Club where I am lucky enough to be a member this year, thanks to the fact that I’m the Chelsea Arts Club Trust/ CHELSEA space Research Fellow, which you can read more about here.
The Chelsea Arts Club was founded in 1891 and is a private club for artists for all genre. The balls are famous for their lavishly and eccentrically costumed dressed guests according to the particular theme of the ball. The Hogmanay was of no exception with guests adorned in tartan which had been manipulated in the most creative ways. There was a live band playing Scottish folk music and we all took part in the traditional Scottish Ceilidh dancing. We even had a bagpipe player on stage to bring in the midnight hour.
Photography is understandably not permitted inside the Club but I took some photographs of my outfit before leaving to the ball. I made my costume myself and I tried to be imaginative in my use of tartan for the Hogmanay theme and created a punked up tartan image inspired by a Vivienne Westwood meets Helena Bonham Carter look. I made a sash out of spare material and a hair fascinator as well. I also wore red eye shadow to make the whole look a bit more punk!
On the evening of 11th December 2012 I attended the University of the Arts, London Benefactors’ Reception which was held at the Platform Theatre Bar on the new purpose built campus site of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The reception was hosted by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Nigel Carrington and the evening was an opportunity to thank, meet and chat with benefactors who fund scholarships, facilities and career opportunities for recipients across the University. I was there because I am the recipient of an award thanks to the generosity of the Chelsea Arts Club Trust and I am this year’s Chelsea Arts Club Trust Fellow. You can read more about my CHELSEA space award and what that involves me doing in a previous post I wrote here and my role was also written about by Donald Smith, Director of Exhibitions at CHELSEA space in the latest CHELSEA space blog post here.
Artist Grayson Perry was at the event in his capacity as a Governor of University of the Arts, London and he gave a speech during the evening which highlighted the importance of the opportunities that the benefactors present had provided in assisting artists to focus on their practice through University by giving awards and that this then contributes to the creative life of the UK. Grayson Perry particularly used his speech to draw attention to the fact that these awards are especially important in supporting artists and those in the creative arts at a time when there are less grants, fees for studying have been increased and arts subjects are being marginalised by the new Ebacc qualifications system.
I very much enjoyed meeting Grayson Perry who was friendly, down to earth and chatty. I spoke to him with MA Fine Art student award recipients from Chelsea College of Art & Design who I knew because of my work on Chelsea Salon Series as Curatorial Associate. We talked about the importance of art schools and Universities for supporting, encouraging and creating the future artists and makers of our cultural society as well as the pros and cons of the internet!
I also thought that Grayson Perry’s outfit, hair and make up were brilliant – he looked great! I saw first hand how as an artist, 2003 Turner Prize winner, Grayson Perry is commenting on contemporary society while using historical techniques and themes in his work through ceramics, most recently tapestry or through his clothes and looks he creates. I recommend watching the television series In the Best Possible Taste with Grayson Perry which you can see here as its a great insight into the artist’s way of thinking and understanding how he is inspired by what he sees around him to create artwork, in this case a tapestry.
On the subject of cross dressing which Grayson Perry is famous for, I wrote in my most recent blog post here about a contemporary of his – artist Brian Chalkley who has also been a part of the cross dressing scene of artists and knows Perry well. Here’s a great image of them together and you can read more about artist Brian Chalkley discussing art, cross dressing, Grayson Perry and more in my interview with him which is written up here.