Graduates from three design courses at London College of Fashion will be showcasing their degree work at London Design Festival between 22 – 24 September. We speak to MA Fashion Artefact graduate Jo Cope ahead of the festival.
ARTEFACT FOOTWEAR, FUTURES (#LCFAFF) showcases work from MA Fashion Artefact, Footwear and Fashion Futures grads as part of London Design Festival at The Vinyl Factory, Soho. The aim is to challenge the notion of how products change and influence the world we live in. The work being shown is a combination of traditional craft with new technologies, the exhibition presents provocative and conceptual work in response to contemporary culture and serves as a reflection of our social behaviour.
Can you tell us about the LDF showcase and how you got involved?
The LDF showcase is the first of its kind for LCF and MA Fashion Artefact, and a very exciting opportunity. A top selection of MA students from the 2017 cohort across Fashion Artefact, Footwear and Fashion Futures will have the opportunity for their work to be exhibited in one of London’s most important annual design events. The common thread between the very diverse works exhibited will be their unique perspectives on the future of fashion. My work was selected by the exhibition director and Artefact tutor Dai Rees, and will be one of the key display pieces, which I believe represents just how hard I pushed myself during the course. People who visit the event will see highly executed craft engineering, sometimes in unison with the latest technology, an inspired use of fundamental design materials, and unique and intriguing making methodologies. There will be visionary thinking which challenges perceptions of why and how fashion can exist on and off the body and its future purpose and role in our lives.
Did you create anything new or are you showing your FMP?
The new pieces created in the six months since graduating will be exhibited in a museum in Budapest at the same time as LDF, which is great to be in two great places at the same time. I will be showing my Final Major Project for the first time as a full installation of which I am very proud to showcase at the event. There have been new developments in the art direction and the relationship to the piece and a model which may be involved as a live element.
Could you tell us about your work and techniques you used to craft the pieces?
Broadly speaking I created conceptual shoe sculptures which exist in two states – both as functional objects designed to fit the body and non-functional static art installations objects which alter our understanding of footwear’s aesthetics and reason to exist. Each piece is a metaphor for life experiences, which mainly centre around relationships with the self and others. Some of the pieces are acting as physical manifestations and which become exorcisms of the negative real life experience. The shoes look to stable exactly both worlds of fashion and art, and seek to tread new ground at the intersection of craft, fashion, and art. There were so many techniques and processes used throughout the project swinging back and forth between old traditions and the latest technology such as laser body scanning and hand body casting. The most significant methodology that I am taking forward in my future practice will be the reshaping of the anatomy of old wooden shoe lasts. Chopping, extended and re-sculpted through wood working techniques to create extremely shaped lasts to challenge the process of shoes making techniques, that during my time in the footwear department tested even the thinking of the highest trained cordwainers. There are three large scale objects, one existing as 8 shoes which have you literally ‘Walking in Circles.’ The project entitled ‘The Language of Feet in the Walk of life’ includes physiology, brain cognition, desire, anatomical actions and many more things.
How does it feel having your work shown at LDF?
This is not the first time for me exhibiting at LDF, previously I exhibited at 100% Design to sell consumable products to concept stores, this time the work is the truest to myself in having the purity of a non-commercial objective, it is more about visual and mental consumption. I think it is very important for students working at this level to have the chance to be introduced to the most professional audience which matches the level of their endeavors. I have seen the space at the Vinyl Factory in Soho and it is going to be an exceptional show, very excited by this opportunity to exist as a wider voice, the standard of the work being shown is definitely a case of strength in numbers.
What makes Artefact a good fit for LDF?
Artefact is a completely unique course and has so much to offer the London Design Festival audience, its lack of commercialism being one. The visionary fashion and craft element of Artefact is very much in tune with the future direction of design which is going back to consider quality along side the other aspect of the course which employs intellectual conceptual thinking. Artefact as a course is there to question design objects and turn everything completely on its head, things such as function, aesthetic, purpose and existence. There is a focus on the course to create something completely ‘new’ and original that makes the wide range designs quite extraordinary and many of objects will not be what you would expect under headings of fashion or footwear.
What outcomes are you hoping from having your work shown?
I am hoping for as much exposure as possible to bring the work closer to the general public and grab the attention of fashion, art and design curators to further exhibition opportunities. For me I am continuing in a long term career as an artist so opportunities to create funded works and commissions is a necessity as well as meeting the right people to create exciting future collaborations. I am also open of course to anything unexpected that might come along that I hadn’t yet imagined.
Life after graduation, what have you been doing since MA17?
Working very long hours in my studio! It hasn’t stopped and it was important to keep the momentum from the intensity of the MA. I have bought a few new pieces of industrial kit to enable me to carry out some of the processes I learned at Golden Lane. I have been creating new work for exhibitions abroad and have already created an installation as part of the prestigious FashionClash show in the Netherlands. I am working with shoe curator Liza Snook of the VitualShoeMuseum who is representing my work currently in a number of places. I have been invited to contribute a chapter for a new fashion/design related book of which the first extract is completed and awaiting approval by Bloomsbury. I have been in a number of talks about future collaborations particularly in the area of fashion and performance art with other external artists and alumni. I am currently working on a performance commission for Sadler’s Wells in collaboration with LCF.
Anything we should keep an eye out for in the future involving you and your work?
My work will be in The Budapest Museum in September, Detroit in October to November, plus Sadler’s Wells again in November. I will be creating an installation for YKK Showroom London in May next year and have many other things in the pipeline. I will be updating the latest news section of my website and work on Instagram, Facebook and on my website.
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