NK Presents: Hannah Lees
Nicholas Kirkwood launched ‘Nicholas Kirkwood presents’ a series of creative partnerships at the brand’s flagship London boutique at 5 Mount St, Mayfair, October 2017. This is a creative space playing host to a series of takeovers and curated pop-ups aimed at promoting collaborative partnerships with various artists, designers and creatives from a range of design disciplines including jewellery, art, literature and floral sculpture.
For the autumn winter 2018 collection; ‘Imperfect Tension’ Kirkwood has collaborated with artist Hannah Lees on the new Courtney group (of mules with a printed silk fabric scrunchie upper). Hannah Lees is an artist who uses natural vegetable dyes to create transfigured textures on silk that give the appearance of a deconstruction and natural decay of the original materials. The final artworks were then digitally printed on to the silk used to make the scrunchie detailing on the Courtney mules. The linear, fluted plexi-heels in this new group take their inspiration from the light show work of artists Olafur Eliasson and James Turrell whose work is a perennial inspiration to Kirkwood.
To create the transfigured texture prints, Hannah Lees uses a process she terms ‘pickling’. Silk cloths are bundled-up with organic matter (such as eucalyptus leaves, annatto seeds, koji red rice and onion skins) and then placed in a jar with some ash and vinegar and water, sometimes with a copper penny or aluminium foil and then sealed. She then leaves the jar for around 3-4 months while the fabrics pickle. She often repeats the process using the same cloth several times to get to the desired effect, so some cloths take around a year to get to a finished state.
To animate the new collection and expand her conceptual ideas around the pickling of textiles and her work in general, Hannah Lees has created a mural painting directly on to the walls, floor and furniture in the ‘NK Presents’ space. The ‘paint’ used for the mural is formed of natural ‘wine lees’ (leftover yeast particles from autolysis which is the self-destruction of yeast cells by enzymes created from fermentation). To complete the installation the pickled cloths that the digital prints used on the Courtney mules in the autumn winter 2018 collection were taken from, are framed and hung on the walls of the space.
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