Paula Collins

Colchester Institute : BA Hons degree course in Art and Design, specialising in Fashion and Textiles

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Miss in Action (2002)

The brief for this project was to design and make a complete outfit based on a female action star icon. The restriction was that the garment had to be made from recycled items found in charity shops. I modelled my designs on Tank Girl, a character I was drawn towards because of her quirky sense in fashion and style. Items that I reinvented included:
A bed sheet with a funky World War II plane print (very fitting for the theme)
Some toy soldiers and tanks which I melted and fused together to decorate a bra-top and pair of boots
And a bag of miniature lipsticks that I sewed together within an arm cuff, imitating a bullet belt

The design made it through to the regional finals of Cancer Research UK/Dylon Contest 2002

Landgirls (2003)

The juxtaposition of the glamour and the romantic notions of 1940’s femme fatale with the base qualities of utility clothing of the same era, was the starting point for this project: Refined versus Raw

From a more contemporary angle, I produced collages from imagery found in current newspapers that debated the dilemmas of the Iraq war. Aiming to evoke a sombre mood in the piece, I transferred these images to the fabric via a photo-heat transfer process. Another technique that I used to explore the concept further was to use shirring to generate small circles that I translated as representing bullet holes/wounds.

The fastenings that I used included easy release clips - commonly used on army apparel, connected by pleated satin ribbons (rather than the usual webbing material more often used). I was interested in playing with the juxtaposition of a material that had strong feminine associations with it, and using it a way that at first looks familiar, yet raises questions about the relationship between war and women – considering the activity of war is predominately male orientated.

RSA – Collaborations (2003)

I was inspired here by the Russian Constructivist period, particularly influenced by the combination of pure pattern with intricate narrative imagery. I looked at Eley Kishimoto who shares this love for bold geometric shape, and I worked towards producing textiles that similarly played with proportion that created a dynamic within the cloth. My own narrative for my imagery was derived from a contemporary take on 21st century technology, with an emphasis on the subtle effects that quality of line has to offer. The collection combines the delicate with the raw edge, and yet strives to retain some element of the original identity of the recycled fabric.

Second Act (2004)

My most recent project to date, I took a number of alternative materials, including paper dress patterns, designed and made an ensemble for Alternative Fashion Week, shown at Spitalfields market. I looked at the cabaret vibe of the 1920’s and the design style of that period for inspiration. I was particularly interested in creating a look that echoed the beauty that aged and worn cloth has to offer. I deliberately distressed the textiles to exemplify the raw edge and show the charm and fragile nature of material.

Artist Statement:

I am currently just finishing my second year on a BA Hons degree course in Art and Design, specialising in Fashion and Textiles at Colchester Institute. I find that a recurrent theme in my work is the use of recycled materials. Personally, I find old fabrics a great source of inspiration in my work. I like to have old shapes and forms dictate a direction for my designs, yet at the same time like to be able to add and give the clothing a new identity that is much more contemporary through reworking and reinventing textiles. I like to use traditional methods yet combine these with less conventional techniques to achieve experimental textile effects. I find that there is much beauty in imperfection, and often strive to emphasis errors and irregularities within the cloth – breaking the tedious nature of the uniform, unvaried and standard blandness of the mass produced.

Paula Collins

Colchester Institute : BA Hons degree course in Art and Design, specialising in Fashion and Textiles

For sales, commissions and to send comments to the artist.


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