“I was very conscious of being in a gallery that traditionally has dead artists and works protected in showcases, so I wanted to enliven the space.”
Fashion designer and artist Richard Malone can’t be blamed for being unproductive.
One of the rising stars of London Fashion Week in recent years, Malone’s limited collections of draped and gathered garments are regularly purchased by a bevy of dedicated collectors who have identified him as a designer to watch.
However, in the last eight weeks the Wexford-born designer has relocated from London and was artist in residence for the exhibition ‘Giacometti: From Life’ at the National Gallery of Ireland.
During this period, Malone completed up to 50 works in his contemporary response to Alberto Giacometti, the 20th-century Swiss sculptor whose Dublin exhibition has drawn visitors to the Merrion Square Gallery since it opened in April.
Aside from his usual fashion work and upcoming new-season collections, Malone’s new work was revealed to the public last night and is available for free viewing until September 4th.
Justified Knot, tie, gesture, bendThe work comprises a series of installations, including four free-standing pieces of fused metal, which he worked on at the family home in Wexford and which were then covered in fabric and sewn in place.
“It’s an interesting conversation for me between my previous work on construction sites and how it differs from women’s spaces where my grandmother and mother taught me to sew. There’s this real feeling of mixing and merging those two worlds,” Malone said.
There are ceramic pieces that respond to shape and form, drawings, paintings and large wall mobiles made from silk jersey and silk ribbons and on-site air conditioning bring the fabrics to life and set them in motion.
“It was really about capturing movement and form to make everything feel like it’s really animated and active.”
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A key element of this residency was reaching out to the gallery’s community partners, including Catherine McAuley National School, the Irish Sign Language Community, dementia support groups and sewing groups in Galway and Roscommon, among others, with activities that are diverse, equitable, accessible and inclusive are engagement.
During his stay, Malone gained access to the gallery’s archives and fell in love with the embroideries of Lily and Lolly Yeats, sisters of poet WB Yeats.
“I also kept thinking about traditional ways of knotting and weaving that connect us to different parts of Ireland that really became part of the process and exaggerated those things,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Malone has gotten inside the mind of a famous artist. He curated during the lockdown Making and Momentum: In Conversation with Eileen Gray and sparked renewed interest in the Irish designer’s legacy and her influence on contemporary artists.
Malone comes from a very artistic family and it was his late grandmother Nellie who taught him to sew and introduced him to the genius of another Wexford native, Eileen Gray.
“It was an odd thing, but all the pieces I sewed for this show were sewn on her machine, which she (Nellie) left me. And when I opened the first layer of her sewing box, which she’s had since the 1970’s, all the colors matched my color choices for this exhibition. They were very specific colors – not black, white and beige – but colors like sea foam, pink and rust and all the threads of color were there.”
The simultaneity of finding echoes of his own work in the legacy of the woman who influenced him is not lost on Malone, who will return to Wexford to choreograph and film a dance project.
The dress design job will have to wait a while.
https://www.independent.ie/style/fashion/designer-richard-malone-fashions-a-tribute-to-sculptor-alberto-giacometti-and-his-grandmother-41890852.html Designer Richard Malone creates a tribute to the sculptor Alberto Giacometti and his grandmother