LCF x LCW: In conversation with Anna Melegh and Tegan Power from MA Footwear
The Fashion Space Gallery is abuzz with London College of Fashion’s newest exhibition – LCF x LCW. Taking place throughout May, LCF x LCW is a celebration of craft excellence across footwear, accessories, jewellery, tailoring and artefact.
Next in our series of interviews, MA Footwear graduates Anna Melegh and Tegan Power share the themes and inspirations behind their showcased projects.
Which key craft and design concepts did you apply to your work?
ANNA: The concept for the designs was based on our throwaway society and how everything is replaceable now. I started to question why things that should last do not and those which should not, actually do. Could I create a collection based on these items but using high-quality materials? Could a bin bag be turned into a fashion piece?
From the craft side I had to become a one-person factory to go against how these everyday items were made – mastering working with wood, leather, screen printing, and animating.
TEGAN: My project combines both digital and hand craft techniques to illustrate the interaction between human emotion and artificial technology. Glitched images and fragmented forms refer to loss of memory and are echoed throughout. The outer shell shapes were first sculpted in wire and then 3D scanned and re-modelled in Rhino, then 3D printed in nylon. The projected images are generated using a stipple generating software. I printed image transfers by hand onto the PVC uppers. The source imagery is generated using pixel sorting software in Processing. All the uppers are hand embroidered together with cross-stitches, all wiring for the lights and batteries are integrated into the embroidery. All uppers were lasted by hand using traditional shoe making techniques. Finally, the insocks, embroidered by my mom, use the same lettering she used to sew my name onto clothes at school.
What themes and ideas have you explored through your work, and what inspired these decisions?
ANNA: I looked into interpretivism based on the assumption that there is no objective reality – no singular way of understanding the world. The surrealist movement highly influenced my work: they aimed to dispose of the line between dream and waking life, the unreal and the real, unconscious and the conscious. Images take place in every human mind and need only a certain predisposition and discipline to be brought to light. I liked the idea of how our imagination can depict the same object in their own way. Like if I say blue elephant, everyone is going to see a different image.
I looked into Sigmund Freud’s work and his book, specifically the “interpretation of dreams”. I made a sketchbook containing drawings and thoughts around the objects (bin bag, bread, eggbox etc.) and position them in a dream-like, surreal world. This was actually the start of my design development and later graphical elements played an important role in the collection. The surrealists used their own vocabulary of images. I wanted to use objects as a language of critique and raise awareness of soulless production. A collection of opposites using materials that are high quality, though the objects of my inspiration are made at the lowest cost possible. Also using the methods of the surrealist artist and makers – techniques such as trompe-l’œil, juxtaposition, disdaining rationalism, scale change, metamorphosis, assemblages of ordinary objects.
TEGAN: The key motivation behind the project is my interest in the loss of memory and the idea that tangible objects can represent a time that is otherwise intangible, or forgotten. Drawing on my own experience with distorted or blocked memories from childhood, I've created a collection that facilitates remembering. I explored the concepts of voluntary memory recall and reminiscence therapy to ground my work. As I mentioned, distorted and fragmented imagery is also a key theme. I knew I wanted to incorporate childhood imagery but needed a way to obscure these to create a universal aesthetic meaning. The use of electronic projection refers to light therapy for emotional wellbeing.
Tegan, you’ve described the shoes in Precious Fragments as “portable projector(s) activated by the wearer”, providing a digital interactive experience that is autobiographical and promotes emotional wellbeing. Can you give us an example of what this looks like?
TEGAN: The user simply taps their shoes together, referencing the Wizard of Oz, “no place like home.” This activates the glowing projections to visualize images from their past. A small LED pulses and sends light through the perforated white shells. The projections and their connection to the image transfer on the inner shoes only become clear when both are projected together. Once side by side, the images begin to take on a fantastical story book feeling. This act of voluntary memory recall reduces stress, promotes self-reflection and improves mood.
In Shoe 2, the projected images show a scene from a family trip to Disney World.
In Shoe 4, the projection reveals a snowy winter scene from a childhood trip.
Anna, who are your favourite surrealist artists, designers and/or makers?
ANNA: Meret Oppenheim who was there at the beginning alongside Picasso, Dalí etc. I love her work because she is one of the female surrealist artists. Her work is mainly based around the everyday object but placed these everyday things into an unlikely context – such as my personal favourite, the Ma Gouvernante (My Nurse Maid, 1936) a pair of worn high-heeled shoes turned upside-down on a metal platter with these paper caps on the heels making them look like a chicken ready for roasting. These strongly symbolise female roles and expectations.
What has been the highlight of your experience in preparation for Craft Week?
ANNA: It was very exciting to know my work will be displayed at the London Craft Week. Because my shoes were part of my MA Footwear collection, I didn't have any specific preparations to do, it was more like just knowing that it will be part of the exhibition.
TEGAN: It's been a few years since I graduated and since I last showed this collection. It has been rewarding to look back at all the work and thinking that went into this project and reflect on the starting point for this collection. I've come far since I made this but the themes and motivations still ring true, maybe more than ever.
What are your goals for the future?
ANNA: I honestly enjoy the making process the most. Right now I’m trying various sides of the footwear industry to get some experience, but I would like to start my own thing in the future, keeping sustainability at the forefront and making wearable art.
TEGAN: I currently work as a shoe designer for a luxury brand here in London. I'm truly living my dream! I hope to continue on this path, and never stop making.