LONDON, The fine line between art and fashion has often proved controversial. Continuing to blur the boundaries is London College of Fashion graduate Una Burke who with a combination of leather and studs has both provoked and intrigued audiences with her fragmented pieces inspired by the human body. The Irish born, London based creator talks to FAULT about her artistic vision.
FAULT: What was your inspiration for your MA graduate collection?
Una:My graduate collection is based on the study of the human mind, how it processes an event of trauma and the consequential after effects. I examined medical findings which discuss the protective emotional barriers often put in place as a result of this. I looked at the different stages of trauma, from the event itself, through the psychological aftermath and finally arriving at a place of acceptance and recovery. The collection in its entirety is a journey which pays respect to all of the stages that have to be endured before healing can take place.
FAULT: Your architectural-like aesthetic would provoke some to categorize your pieces as costume or even sculpture. Was this your intention? How would you describe your work?
Una:I have always been interested in blurring the boundaries between fine art and fashion therefore the primary function of this collection was, in fact, to create pieces which are built around the body’s form but would be viewed as a sculptural display in a gallery environment. When exhibiting these pieces I deliberately position each one so that it interacts visually with the surrounding pieces within the given space. The scenes created relate back to the original concept of the collection, so they depict dialogues of physical and mental anguish through to the healing process. As a result of this, a certain mood is created and the viewer often develops feelings such as compassion, fear or pity for particular characters, depending on how each person interprets the scenario.
Una: These pieces have been exhibited in various galleries in the UK, Ireland and Italy. Due to their extreme visual impact and their dramatic effect on the body, they have also been used for several photoshoots for UK and international fashion magazines. This collection had not actually been worn on catwalk until I brought it to Germany in October 2009. Here these pieces were worn at “Cologne Catwalk”, a fashion show titled, “Art meets Fashion” which was held at “Art.Fair21”, an expose featuring emerging contemporary artists.
Una: It is amazing that my work has been received so well from both the fashion and fine art aspects. I suppose it could be described either as wearable art or sculptural fashion. This, once again, is for the viewer to decide.
FAULT:Where do you hope to see yourself in five years time?
Una: I hope to be collaborating with some interesting artists and designers, producing sculptural pieces for catwalk shows, while also producing structured leather accessories and corsetry for sale in high end stores. I will continue to produce conceptual pieces for display in galleries and to be used in fashion editorials.
FAULT:Do you feel there is enough support for emerging designers?
Una: I think that there is quite a bit of support for designers right now however there could certainly be more help given in the line of grants for new fashion business set-up and also in the area of access to free business information.
FAULT: What advice would you give to other emerging designers?
Get a PR agent. I can’t afford one yet and I’m spending so much time co-ordinating and getting my work to and from shoots, exhibitions and other events that I find that I don’t have even nearly enough time to focus on the making and development of new styles.
FAULT:What are your plans for the moment?
Una: Right now I am developing some cinch belts and corsetry which are selling in Coco De Mer and I am also working on a small collection of handbags for sale in a store in San Francisco called Circle and Square.