The participants were asked to choose three of the garments, to research their historical context and designers, and to produce original illustrations to portray both the character of the work and their own design style.
The students attended a series of workshops during their first two weeks of studies to help them develop their work, both at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) and at the museum. They then presented their final pieces to judges from both institutions who – after much deliberation – selected three drawings to be featured in the “Explore” section of the museum website alongside the garments that inspired them.
The three pieces chosen were by Katie Griffith Morgan, Delores Zhou, and Skye Bending.
Katie picked the Comme des Garçons “Bump” dress, designed by Rei Kawakubo, as one of the garments to illustrate.
“I was initially attracted to the look of the garment – the form, the folds and the crumples – that I thought would be interesting to draw. It was the first thing I wanted to draw when I came into the gallery,” said Katie, “Kawakubo’s collection was distancing itself from what, stereotypically, is ‘feminine’, and it’s manipulating the silhouette of the body.”
“It was nice to be able to see the garment in real life and look at different angles. I enjoyed sketching from life – the observational drawing side of it. It was also nice to be set quite an open-ended brief,” she said, “I think all of our skills have improved through the workshops. It’s encouraged me to think about illustration in a more open-minded way, not just relying on one line-drawn figure in the centre of the page."
Delores Zhou chose to work from a design by Craig Green, she was drawn to the challenge of illustrating something that was just white with no additional colour. “The workshops helped me a lot, particularly the one on collage, because before that I had only explored drawing by hand,” said Delores, “After that, I used the collage technique, and ended up with something that’s more 3D and brings the garment to life.”
Skye was inspired by the story behind the garment for her work – the owner, Frances Strickland Lovell Oldham, married the clan leader of Invercauld in the 1950s, “I imagined her drenched in this tartan from head to toe. I thought of her as a really proud lady, and I liked the idea of knowing the character who I was portraying,” she said, “I found it difficult to capture the thickness of the material and the pattern at first. But we did a pattern and textural tutorial, which helped me to use other techniques to represent the weight of the fabric more.”
“Even going back to the basics of how to hold a pencil just helped me to understand the process of drawing, and getting scale. And approaching this through the museum helped me to consider the historic details behind the designs,” she said, “I think I’ve gained more confidence in my illustrations – to be more creative with them.”