Constellation Overview

When we first started learning about subcultures, I assumed I was quite knowledgeable about this topic because I had studied sociology at A-Levels and we learnt about the Mods and the Rockers. Which I just assumed would be a standard subculture to learn about.

However, during these eight lessons we have talked about lots of different subcultures in depth and I have started to take my learning into real life situations and judge the fashion choices of some with the history I have learnt about.

My favourite subculture that we learnt about was Hip-Hop. ‘The capitalist boom of the 1980’s bought with it a focus on materialism’. The Hip Hop scene started in the hoods of New York and ‘competition was an integral way to [earn] respect in the culture’, Written by Whitley, referenced in a book called postmodernism. Style and subversion. (Whitley, 2011, p187).

We looked at the fashion aspects of this subculture. For example, the large bomber jackets that were branded and their chunky, long, gold chains as a significance of wealth. ‘proving one’s self worth…flaunting one’s belongings, branded goods’ (Whitley, 2011, p187). However, we can also see a trend of them wearing sportswear. Including the brand adidas, which is a sports brand. This is where I find it most interesting, because it’s a juxtaposition between the heavy chains and the sports wear. Obviously sports wear is designed for you to complete sports in, but wearing heavy, long chains around the neck, undermines the meaning of the sports clothes. I also loved the idea of this subculture making a status symbol by stealing things, in this case it was VW (vaults wagon) ornaments, from random cars within the neighbourhood. Projecting the idea that they are taking someone else’s wealth, and also allowing themselves the stupidity of wearing them in the streets during the day, in order to perhaps get caught by the police. I love the whole idea of contradicting themselves within the subculture. However, when I looked into writing about this subculture for my final essay, I couldn’t find much in terms of studies of books written about this subculture, in comparison to Goths, Punks, or even Harajuku.

I am also really interested in the skin head subculture which was popular in England during the 1960’s. I am really interested with their fashion choice of the skin head scene. When you look at past images of skin head gangs, the thing I love most is there choice of bleached jeans. We recently focused on denim in my Field module in Textiles, and I particularly focused on the manipulation of denim threw bleaching. I have a keen interest in this myself, so seeing something which you could say is current being portrayed nearly sixty years ago I think is great. When I was sixteen years old one of my friends decided to take it upon himself to look like a skin head, and at the time I didn’t even know what he was trying to achieve but when I ask him now, he says that he got into a different crowd and that’s what they all looked like. So clearly in these days maybe they aren’t doing it to rebel against the state, or at least maybe they didn’t realise that’s what they showing themselves to do. However, I feel like he pulled of the look quite well, and really showed that, that was the look he was going for. Right down to the the blood red Dr. Martens with the long laces tied around his calves.

While looking on the internet about female skin heads, I came across an article about a female skin head (—a-skinhead-girl ) basically telling the story of how she became a skin head. Within this article, she states that she has skin head friends, however she also hangs around with ‘punks, mods casual and everything in-between’. With my own previous experiences, last weekend I was back home and went into a rock pub with my friend who is into that scene of music. And while I was there I saw a group of three guys talking but all had very different looks. One was a skin head, clearly by his fashion choices and shaved head. I would say another was a modified punk look, with a piercings, and long beard and leather jacket and the last guy was very casual. Seeing these types of people all together makes me think there is no longer homology within subcultures today. If you look up subcultures within history is shows that they tend to stay within there ‘own kind’ of people who dress and act the same, and they would most likely never speak to members of other subcultures. However, from my point of view, it seems people dress the way they want to because they like this style, but with regards to belonging to a group, there fashion choices don’t subject them to hanging around with certain people.

I watched the movie ‘This is England’ and found it really interesting focusing on the skin head subculture and in particular the violence within this subculture. However, this is not the only subculture that participated in ‘gang’ violence. We also learnt about the zoot suit subculture which was around in America in the 1940’s. Particularly members were part of the African-American or Italian community. During 1942 riots broke out between the zoot suit subculture and service men for prejudice towards the Mexican American community.

During the first term we had a really interesting key notes lecture on the history of the Doc Marten boots. It was said that the original design of the Dr. Martens were made purposely to be worn for service men.  It was during the 1960’s and 1970’s that different subcultures started to recreate the boot to their own style. Dr. Martens claim on their website that they became ‘a symbol of self expression’, and individuality within a group. By the 1980’s groups had started to customise their own designs onto boots to make there’s stand out. I just think the history of these shoes is interesting because it’s the people they weren’t made for that made them a famous icon today. Furthermore, I like the idea how each subculture in British history have been seen wearing these boots but each in their own way.

Since starting this study group we have learnt a lot of key words that allow me to have better understanding of the theories:

Bricolage– a concept creating new meanings from found objects.

collective identity was less a question of belonging to just one group.

Fluid boundaries– there are no boundaries, no distinct look and no affiliation to one scene.

Homology– A group that share the same values- Group Affiliation.

Neo-tribes– Allowing members to wader threw multiple group attachments so that

Semiotic guerilla warfare– Antae establishment warfare, a visual trashing threw a style statement.

Subcultural Capital– What defines cool.

Supermarket Style– A modern concept that new subcultures take parts of old subcultures and re-work them into new styles.



St. Athens Boys Village

Today I travelled to St. Athens Boys Village, after researching about the place online and finding out it was relatively close to where I live I decided to take the trip to see what the place was like and perhaps find out the history of the place.

I discoved the sight on 28 days later, an online meeting place for urban explorers. Having seen photos of it, it a reasonable condition i was expecting much more, but when i got there the place was in ruins. Graffiti artists and arsonists have been about and its quite upsetting really. But from my perspective I got some wonderful photographs of textures and old wallpapers.

This is a link contains some of the history of the sight, it also shows some of the images that were taken of the place from 2009. Considering the time difference the place has changed drastically. 28DaysLaterPost.

These images I’ve taken of the wallpaper remind me a lot of photographs from the work of  Stephen Wilkes who took photographs of Ellis Island of the coast of New York. and also photographers Daniel Barter and Daniel Marbaix who toured around America and took this photograph in an asylum in New Jersey.


Formative Assessment- Second Term

This is my wall for my formative assessment during the second term. we were asked to mount and present out work on the board and table. I presented my final two pieces I had completed together on the board at eye level. Pinning each corner and keeping the edges freighted, to represent the abandoned buildings being decayed, shown threw the imagery. I also put up on each side board my original photographs that inspired me, from the collection called ‘The ruins of Detroit’, by Marchand and Meffre. And the prints I had created from both photographs.

On the table I left all my folders including my artist research folder and both my technical folders from stitch and print showing all my examples of different techniques. My sketch books, which I have used to draw a few select images in. Not to mention the few big sample pieces I had created using the prints and different materials. Which I had stitched a header on to each. I thought the overall presentation looked professional and there was a clear link as to how I got to my final piece threw my presentation skills. I’m really happy with the overall outcome and thought my oral presentation about my work went really well. I was pleased with the feedback and I feel that my work was very unique in comparison to others in my class. Considering we all had the same theme and starting point. I’m impressed and hope to be able to continue with this theme.

Professor Richard Weston- Digital Arts and Crafts from Minerals to Apps

Today we heard from Professor Richard Western about his digital art work based on minerals. His idea of art started of by scanning in minerals, lime stone and rocks. He then zooms into the images creating unique patterns. When this first started of he got some fabric digitally printed and completed a project with Newport fashion university called ‘frocks from rocks’.

Later on he appeared in a program which aired on BBC2 called ‘Britain’s next best thing’. During the shows air on TV the producers told Sir. Weston that he would receive lots of interest in his work, however that was not the case. He only received business from the company called liberty, where he had a collection of scarfs presented on a wall in the store.

More recently after retiring he bought a microscope, so he could zoom in so much closer, changing lights around the minerals to get different patters. On Photoshop he began adding the mineral, colour patterns into different images. After which he began to work with children’s drawings and edited in the colours. I thought this was a really clever idea, quite simple to do but still ended with such a beautiful piece.

Most recently he is attempting to create an app called Snapnic, where you can edit your own images with a selection of 8 different coloured minerals.

This talk was really inspiring, and I enjoyed what he had to say. His idea of editing images in this way is really unique. And then to add them into fashion works particularly well. It would be nice to try these ideas considering we will be starting digital print in the upcoming future.

Future Generations Project

The city of Detroit is very historic. During the 19th century the city of Detroit generated its own industrial revolution. Visionary engineers and entrepreneurs flocked to its borders. During the 1920’s Detroit saw monumental sky scarpers and fancy neighborhoods pop up everywhere representing the city’s wealth and becoming the beacon of the American Dream. Thousands of people flocked towards the city, with an amazing population of 2 million people making Detroit the 4th largest city in the united states by the 1950’s.

Deindustrialization and segregation increased and in 1967, social tension exploded into one of the most violent urban riots in American history. After which the population decreased and whole neighborhoods began to vanish. Outdated buildings emptied and within fifty years Detroit lost more then half of its population. The city of Detroit played a fundamental role in shaping the modern world. The logic that created the city also destroyed the city.

The words of Marchand and Meffre describe the city’s ruins so perfectly:

Nowadays, unlike anywhere else, the city’s ruins are not isolated details in the urban environment. They have become a natural component of the landscape. Detroit presents all archetypal buildings of an American city in a state of mummification. Its splendid decaying monuments are, no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens, remnants of the passing of a great Empire.

These photographs taken by Marchand and Meffre of the ruins in Detroit were the basis for my future generations project. I really liked the idea that these photographs represent the past generations threw the architecture and the social statements.

My take on the future generations project is attempting establish the previous historic movements in time that have changed the world. In both an industrial change and a political change.

One of the questions on the brief asks: what do we mean by beauty?

In my eyes the finding the beauty in dereliction is lovely. I like the idea that a building that once held purpose for supporting people’s jobs/incomes, can one day just be left behind. This building probably holds a lot of memory’s and artefacts, perhaps old documents or furniture. And since closing maybe people have entered illegally leaving foot prints or marks behind. I think the beauty comes from each memory someone left behind. I also adore the architecture of the Farwell building that was built in 1915. As it is centred around a shaft of light going threw all eight levels. This specific piece of architecture you could argue could be the idea of preserving energy to go along with the future generations project.

With this in mind I created two prints from my favourite photographs to represent the structures of the buildings. I wanted to create wall hangings for my final piece, using recycled fabrics to go along with the theme of future generations and preserving what’s already around us. I went to a local charity called re create, who raise money to help the local community be more creative. There I found some beautiful printed fabric with blues and greens and decided to use this as the basis/colour scheme of my work.

The first week I started, Steve was out sick, so I decided to start stitching into the fabric with the first print. After stitching it I decided to applique on some fabric, which I thought it looked really nice. A week later Steve arrived back and I decided to get lots of screen printing done at once. I decided to go over my design with a grey. However due to the different textures and layers, my first attempt at a clean screen print didn’t work so well. I was so un happy with how it looked. Steve told me to try use foil over the top so that the grey would look like a shadow. which I thought looked really nice. I was so pleased with the final result. I then screen printed in grey, green white and some more foil so I had lots to work with when I returned to stitch the next week.

I started to sample some other methods of stitch onto my chosen fabrics and prints. I attempted outlining the print, Free machine embroidery to fill in some of the shapes, applique with my chosen fabric to add colour, fringing to add texture and I also attempted to stitch out collections of prints that I had already made using Photoshop. I assumed there would have been an easier way to print a design onto fabric without using screen print. But Steve in the print room said the only way he had access to, way going to add a layer onto the fabric which would change the texture, and that wasn’t a good idea.

After testing these methods, I I chose my favorites and applied them onto one piece of fabric. I was overall really impressed with the finished design of the piece. I thought the pale colour’s complimented silver foil nicely and the mirroring image I thought made the piece easy to look at.

I then went on to try stitching down a printed pattern onto the fabric, but when it started to pucker I gave up and moved on to attempting a similar method onto the second print. After finding out there was no foil left over to use I decided I would try fill the area in with machine embroidery in a metallic silver thread. The texture is rough but I think adds a different quality to the design. I then also went on to add some fringing in the middle in a line, and doubled it up to brighten the piece up a little. Because the green was very bight and the technique added a new different texture. I thought this was a good idea because recently we learnt these new techniques, I wanted to include some in my new work instead of just continuing with the last terms techniques. I think for my final show I will hang my Final two pieces up next to each other, because they work nicely together as a collection because they have similar colour’s, textures and techniques. Plus, the subject matter works well together. I’m overall really pleased with this terms work. However, I didn’t complete as many as I wanted, I am happy these two are completed to a high level.