Monday, September 04, 2006

Haute Kilture

A few weeks ago I went to this amazing exhibition of "alternative" kilts and accessories by Malcolm Cruickshank, a family friend .

The exhibition, called Haute Kilture, is in the Jedburgh Community and Arts Centre,St John's Old School, Friars, Jedburgh and runs till 15th September and is open 2-5pm, Wednesday till Sunday. Believe me it is well worth a visit.

How it came to be!

It is almost a year since he decided to produce an exhibition with a theme of kilts. This decision came after he made an "art" kilt for a birthday party which had paper as its theme. He felt it appropriate to make a paper kilt to wear to the party. In order to make this kilt he researched the construction of modern kilts and begun to produce his own, which he found a fascinating and fulfilling exercise. Malcolm did not set out to become a kilt maker, certainly not in any traditional sense, and the products in the exhibition, whilst all entirely functional, are intended to be art objects first and foremost. Everything in the exhibition has been designed to best reflect his own artistic personality, including all of the copper stands and other display items, which he designed and made himself.

Up till now Malcolm's work as a textile artist has led him to create many decorative items, which include furniture, paintings, drawings and jewellery.

Completing the exhibits for this exhibition has meant a steep learning curve for Malcolm, which he found satisfying and fun to undertake. He has always drawn his inspiration from the world around him and this can be clearly seen by the diversity of themes in his exhibition.

Using discarded materials is very close to his heart and this can be seen in the use of plastic, paper and weed control fabric which he has used to make some of his kilts.

The Kilts !

This is his plastic kilt, which he made from recycled plastic bags. The kilt pin and sporran were also made from plastic bags. He states that he particularly enjoyed the "fabric" created by using this medium as it left an impression of weave, thus making the surface more interesting.

This is Malcolm's "Gardner's Kilt" which he made from weed control fabric. He got the inspiration for this kilt while laying out a new flower bed at his work.

"Its use as a fabric for clothing, presents it in a new way and results in a striking piece of art" as stated by M Cruickshank.

I tend to agree with him, and was most impressed by this kilt. Infact it was my favourite.

The kilt pin was made from a square of anti-leaf gutter covering, thus continuing the garden theme!

This kilt he made from brown wrapping paper, with some stitching. The kilt pin is made from a postage stamp.

Quite often Malcolm's work involves words and text, and for him, the correct placement of a word or phrase can make or break a piece. The "Lyric" Kilts combine this with his love of music. He took some lyrics from some of his favourite songs by REM, Placebo, The Beatles, The White Stripes and The Happy Mondays. He then wrote them down a line at a time and mixing each lyric with the next to create a continuous text. He made two "lyric" kilts, this was because he became frustrated in his search for a suitable digital printer. The first one he made was printed at home on a standard inkjet printer.

"Lyric" Kilt #1 is made from heavy cotton fabric with the hand written lyrics apliqued with thread to the heavy cotton of the kilt.

The kilt pin is made from headphones and headphone core wire, thus continuing the music theme!

"Lyric" Kilt #2 is made from new digitally printed fabric and hand written song lyrics.

Malcolm's final kilt was called the "Clubbers" Kilt, because it was made from a collection of night club fliers he picked up one night in the City Cafe in Edinburgh.

The aim of this kilt was to provide a satirical commentary, encouraging the viewer to look at the modern life style in a different way. He had the idea to use the ephemeral images which the industry uses to tempt people into their clubs. His initial intention was to use the actual fliers, but you can see how this idea developed instead to a magnificent printed fabric which presents a hitherto unseen surface and challenges the eye to put dismembered objects into a new but recognisable situation, in this case a piece of clothing.

The artist!

Malcolm graduated with a BA (Hons) Contemporary Applied Arts from Cumbria Institute of Arts in 2004. Since then he has frequently exhibited and organised exhibitions and has set up his own business. He is a very versatile textile artist. He is currently exhibiting his Orkney monoprints and felt light boxes in the Juno Design Gallery in Argyll Street Dunoon, till 14th Oct.

Here are a sample of his light boxes which were on display at Prestongrange Industrial Heritage Museum
in July 2006.

I found them very affective and beautiful.

In October, when he finishes his current job, he will be taking up a post working as an Artist in Residence, in Midlothian Primary Schools.

Malcolm is one of the makers on and he can be contacted at .

Post script.....The City Cafe is where "City Knitty" meet every Wednesday at 7.30pm, or why not check out our blog to see what we are upto!


Blogger Robin said...

Maybe I need to order the "Gardner Kilt" for Jack! Great exhibit...the lightboxes are exraordinary!

11:29 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks S its an absolutely brilliant write up.

3:53 pm  
Blogger PURLPOWER said...

Great post. I like the clubbers kilt the best.

8:22 am  
Anonymous glittrgirl said...

Great inspiring post! I liked the gardeners kilt and the lyric kilt 1. I loved the lightboxes too. I must remember the try and arrange my next meeting in Edinbugh on a Wednesday, then I can come along to your knitting group! When are you coming to Newcastle?

11:37 am  

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