To Whom It May Concern
In the short space of time researching and exhibiting our apparel collection for The Inventors of Tradition II, so much has changed. Atelier E.B has witnessed the jewel in Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s crown reduced to ashes, the passing of the pioneering Scottish footballer Edna Neillis, Pop Art’s Gerald Laing and the textile and fine artist Bernat Klein of High Sunderland. Eduardo Paolozzi’s Tottenham Court Road tube station mosaics are to be re-housed at Edinburgh University and The Scotsman newspaper has downsized, its building leased to the makers of Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar North, illustrating the changing nature of the media. Scotland was asked to reflect on its identity; did I mention that The Scotsman backed a ‘No’ vote in the referendum on Scottish Independence in September 2014?
Both partners in Atelier E.B grew up in Scotland. We come from completely different style backgrounds and cities. We discuss common ground together yet appreciate our differences. I often liken my and Lucy’s accord to that of Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys. Did you know that we graduated in 1999 the same year Glasgow was designated UK City of Architecture and Design however neither of us studied at Glasgow School of Art? We both have Jack Vettriano modelling stories, we both really fancied the Czechoslovakian tennis player Ivan Lendl in our teens and we both enjoy sharing beauty and scent tips with one another.
Atelier E.B works with local companies in Scotland and Belgium that produce ethically, and our clothes have more to do with referencing, re-contextualising and refining existing style languages than innovation. The radicality of the label is not in the cut; it’s in our approach, facilitated through art, and our independence from a fashion system we find fatigued and conventional.
We continue to live in different cities, me in Edinburgh, Lucy in Brussels. We research and design separately for Atelier E.B, coming together for intense bursts of show-and-tell. It was decided when designing the collection on this occasion that we would create our garment ideas in life-size paper cut-outs, Henri Matisse-like, aiding an overall view of the collection, now documented as the papier decoupes in Lucy’s jumbo pin board trompe l’oeil oil painting Quodlibet XXXV.
To assist the design process we looked to the work of Scottish filmmaker, writer and exhibition curator Murray Grigor. His documentary films often champion forgotten truths in Scottish history and culture; they capture the smell, sound, losses and looks of a time past. Grigor began his filmmaking career in the late 1960s, focusing on the life of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The first of his films I stumbled across was Space and Light Revisited, which documents the rise and demise of St Peter’s Seminary designed by the architects Gillespie, Kidd & Coia. You can imagine my delight when I subsequently came across the list of his endless filmography. How to get my hands on his films? I viewed what is available through the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive but eventually realised I would have to contact Murray personally. His film narratives combine ideas, vox-pop interviews, humour, artefacts, stills, animation, fact, style and texture; he is a master weaver of documentary filmmaking. Although he’s revered internationally, believe it or not it is difficult to view Grigor’s works. Where are the box sets?
Finally, Atelier E.B have created our own fabric label to be sewn into garments in the collection in tandem with the producer’s label. A few garments in the collection have the label applied to the outside of the piece, a gentle nod to British and European brands from the 1980s* that introduced us to the high quality textiles and construction methods that we aspire to attain in our own collections.
* Atelier E.B explores this trend further through Paravent VII Jumbo labels / Show fantasy escalate