"Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion" Displays the Results of 9 Designer and Artist Pairings

Christopher de Vos and Francis Upritchard's "Arch, Peter Pilotto" (detail)
(Courtesy Victoria & Albert Museum)

We’ve all seen what happens when artists collaborate with fashion designers to create handbags, dresses, T-shirts, and more. But what does it look like when a designer works with an artist to make art? The British Fashion Council/Bazaar Fashion Arts Foundation sought to answer that question with “Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion,” a project that paired 18 visual artists with designers to conceive works for a Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition as part of the London 2012 Festival.

The pieces formed by the nine pairs ran the gamut from sculpture to video to an audio track. Mary Katrantzou and multimedia artist Mark Titchner fused their affinity for vibrant imagery in a seven-minute animated video, “Tint the Pallid Landscape (Off to the Wars in Lace),” that layers text Titchner thought described Paralympic and Olympic qualities — strength, courage, speed, power, stamina, agility, resilience, passion, precision, and ambition — with Katrantzou’s striking prints. Shoe designer Nicholas Kirkwood and doiley enthusiast Simon Periton made a mobile, “Dissecting Waltz,” that rotates Kirkwood’s dismembered dangling heels and neon and silver hanging scalpels from three steel rings. Menswear maven Paul Smith and animal painter Charming Baker placed an aluminum bike sculpture balancing on its front wheel aimed at the ground on a block – look a little closer and a tiny black mouse is holding up the bicycle in the cleverly titled “Triumph in the Face of Absurdity.”

The other duos — Hussein Chalayan and Gavin TurkGiles Deacon and Jeremy DellerJonathan Saunders and Jess Flood-PaddockMatthew Williamson and Mat CollishawPeter Pilotto and Francis Upritchard, and Stephen Jones and Cerith Wyn Evans — came up with equally interesting ideas for the show, which was conceptualized as part of the many London celebrations happening for the upcoming Olympic games, which will surely bring more fashion and art fodder to the table.

Click on the slide show to see artwork from “Britain Creates 2012: Fashion + Art Collusion,” on view at the V&A through July 29.

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