As Frieze London wraps up for another year having showcased the best in contemporary art throughout the city last week, its partnership with British heritage brand dunhill proved a particularly good pairing. Their collaborative documentary explored the creative connection between the brand’s creative director Mark Weston and US artist Ellen Carey which lead to the brand’s collaborative SS22 collection. Hit play below.
Across four decades, Carey has pushed the boundaries of form and process, using a large-format Polaroid 20 X 24 camera – one of only five in the world – to create vivid, abstract works that play with ideas of light exposure and colour composition. Hailed as a pioneer of experimental photography, Carey sites the desire for discovery as the driving force of her unconventional creative endeavours – something Weston immediately resonated with: “process and its possibilities are an ongoing fascination for me,” said the dunhill designer, “and the importance of trusting instinct while embracing the accidentals. The painterly colours, patterns and textures that result in Ellen’s work reminded me of similar textiles and treatments I work with.”
With the creative freedom to reinterpret pieces from her oeuvre, the outcome saw Carey’s expressive works translate across dunhill’s meticulous tailoring. It was from her breakthrough Pull works that Weston predominantly drew his references for this collection, a series that involved interrupting the dye-transfer process mid-development to create abstract explosions of colour. Satin silhouettes adorned with psychedelic Polaroid prints took centre stage as delicate backdrops to these lucid images, while Carey’s experimental sensibilities gave room for looser silhouettes and technical fabrics. Accessories in the form of geometric printed hats and the new season Lock bag sat alongside the collection in an array of hues representative of Carey’s work.
Unpicking the subtleties of the collection, this new Frieze film captures Weston and Carey in conversation via zoom. Discussing the creative similarities between the pair, Weston is sure to reinforce the organic nature of the collaboration. Acknowledging her own process as “taboo” in the traditional sense, Carey is shown in the darkroom manipulating negatives and altering the printed results. Both agreeing on their shared desire to produce visually powerful art, it’s a collaboration rooted in mutual respect and appreciation of one another’s design process.