Do we think painterly florals are ‘Wearable Art’?

wearable art
Catalogue cover advertising ‘painterly florals’

Last week a mid-market catalogue arrived in the post with this cover page. Now the expression ‘Wearable Art’ is extremely flexible and let’s be honest a bit naff. Not for one minute am I saying that some art isn’t so beautiful you want more of it, for yourself, to remind you of seeing it. Most major art galleries and museums now have ‘the shop’ where you can buy all kinds of items emblazoned with reproductions of traditional, formal art. I have to admit to being so enamoured of Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ that I made myself a sunflowers silk top, but I never thought I was wearing his art. Art inspired, yes, but not art.

And, that is what I think about the rest of my wearable work, often art inspired, but perhaps not actually art. In the past, I have created art by painting silk where content has been an expression of a concept and knowing that the piece will be mounted and viewed flat on a wall has both broadened and constrained my approach. And, now we return, as so often, to the divide between art and craft where the flexible boundaries are bent by original intent.

thistle and dahlia design

As this year’s spring/summer fashion hits the stores, apparently one of the major trends in both fashion and interiors is ‘painterly florals’. I suppose this will be clothes made from floral textiles where the printed fabric designs were originally painted flowers with visible brushstrokes. I’m guessing it doesn’t mean cloth directly painted with flowers! Shame – as that would be such a boon to us silk painters who often actually paint flowers, sometimes called art, sometimes wearable, but always one-off images.

flowers and birds design
Work in progress – painterly flowers, birds and urns.
Will be wearable

Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

10 thoughts on “Do we think painterly florals are ‘Wearable Art’?”

    1. Well, thank you for that – it’s going okay at the moment. Of course the finished scarf will be slightly brighter when it’s been in the steamer for a couple of hours.

      1. Hope you have a delightful Spring. I worked in the Lake District one time, and finally understood why Wordsworth banged on so much about daffodils. It’s great to live in a country that has definite seasons, but of course, wintry days can be dreary.

  1. Not sure I understand your distinction between art and craft when it comes to the pieces you create. The scarf you’re working on at the bottom is surely wearable art.

    1. Mmm – actually I don’t really think you can wear any art. I think you can be art – performance/installations. Clothing, jewellry even tattoos can be artistic, but not really art. With my art historian’s hat on I would use the expression ‘visual culture’ with art as a sub-category and craft as another sub-category. And, I would put textile art in art, but painted scarves in craft. Of course, if I was Japanese I wouldn’t make such a differentiation at all. As usual it’s all in the eye of the beholder!

  2. I think of it that I’m wearing it instead of my wall. Seems to me all art has a function, in how it’s to be displayed or what it means or looks like or the whole thing at once. I’m happier being surrounded (literally or figuratively) by something individual, and intriguing or attractive or meaningful. Trying not to define, just enjoy!

    Your work is beautiful

    1. Enjoying – you are so right. My daughter had a partially sighted piano teacher when she was younger. The teacher arranged small areas of ‘visual beauty’ that she could look at when she needed cheering up. I’ve never forgotten that and have tried to arrange even the most functional objects in pleasing ways. And, thank you for the praise. I hope your hands are recovering.

      1. Thank you. A pleasing sight calms and has a positive influence no matter how mundane the elements might be, I think. Anything can have beauty. Thanks for your good wishes for my health. The outcome is not certain but I am optimistic. Thank you, your work makes me happy.

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