Split the Difference
Top Image: Louise Gray and Scott Ramsay Kyle, “DATES”, 2016.
The careers of Louise Gray and Scott Ramsay Kyle have both long been entwined with the fashion industry. For womenswear designer Gray, this began in 2007 as part of Fashion East’s SS08 dream team alongside Henry Holland and Dr Noki, later graduating to NEWGEN and a sequin smothered collaboration with Topshop, before a stint consulting for Lulu & Co.
Meanwhile it was Scott whose subversive embroidery filled the IRL space of House of Holland’s SS17 menswear presentation in June, and whose needlework can be found across the brand’s third menswear outing (he’s also consulted previously for the likes of V for Victoria Beckham and Martine Rose).
But as the pair tell us here, the sartorial is not what feeds their latest venture, Split The Difference. A joint show from the Scottish born, London-based friends at N1’s Archive Gallery, it sees Gray exhibiting work that responds to the late Caribbean-American poet, essayist and activist June Jordon’s To tell the truth is to become beautiful, while for his part, Ramsay Kyle has drawn from The Doors of Perception, writer, novelist and philosopher Aldous Huxley’s 1954 published recollections of mescaline use.
Zoe Whitfield: Starting right at the beginning, can you tell me how you first met?
Louise Gray and Scott Ramsay Kyle: We met at Foundation College in Glasgow when we were both 18. We both trained at The Glasgow School of Art for our undergrads and then we both continued to the MA Fashion course at Central Saint Martins, so we’re old good friends.
ZW: Have you collaborated before?
LG & SRK: Only at the above, where we intertwined lots of fun experiences. Actually we did once show our collections in New York, at an event called Tartan Week where we both hid from having to meet Donald Trump and his camera crew.
ZW: And Split The Difference, how did you come up with the idea?
LG & SRK: We were both discussing our work one afternoon, while walking up Hampstead Heath, and it literally became apparent that we should show our new works together in a mutual space, as it feels like there is a new narrative within our practices, and we think it is important to begin to show our work in a new way. The space we are showing in is a large square so it feels equal, but we are still mixing our worlds together; this also relates to the ideas of togetherness, separateness, individuality, mixing, joining, splitting, differences and all those relating words.
ZW: Did you discuss a specific theme prior to curating the exhibition?
LG & SRK: We are both interested in the ideas of perception, the phenomenon of our online lives, the idea of real honesty versus façade, accept versus consent, the presented versus the invented, authenticity versus the unauthorised. We have both undertaken a confessional approach to our own work.
“It feels like there is a new narrative within our practices, and we think it is important to begin to show our work in a new way.”
ZW: What is it about each other’s work that you most admire?
LG & SRK: Answering together, we admire each other’s sense of work ethic; there are similarities to how we approach process, continuing to develop our own signatures, and then looking after them by doing the work. Risk taking is a massive factor where we can both help each other moves forwards.
ZW: And how would you sum up each other’s work, given just five words?
LG & SRK: These are the five words that we use to describe each other; brave, honest, confessional, beautiful and always humour.
ZW: Speaking of confessional, what have been the best and worst things about working together?
LG & SRK: The best part is that, having grown up together, we have such an integral understanding of what we are individually trying to express within our work. A down side could be we know each other, so we know how to push each other creatively or outside our own comfort zone.
ZW: That could be a positive too! You’re both on Instagram. What do you find most exciting about the platform, from a creative point of view?
SRK: My work has moved from being collaboration and consultancy based, often behind-the-scenes, to being showcased to a larger audience showing firsthand my own artwork under my own name, which was unexpected. The Instagram audience has exposed me to some really interesting people and conversations.
LG: I like that I can be completely free to post my process, in a diaristic, self-portraiture way. I have deleted so many old posts that I can continue forward, fashion was one way of showing my ideas, and now Its helped me curve into a new narrative.
ZW: Finally, what are you most excited for people to see, learn or experience with Split The Difference?
LG & SRK: We see this show as the beginning of a new narrative. We are going to continue showing our work through Split the Difference as an umbrella, as well as our own projects, and align a new community of creatives that we know exist, and that share our create/make mantra.
‘Split the Difference’ runs until 11th September at Archive Gallery, N1.