I have always been a massive fan of Lisa Milroys’ work for many years. And yesterday I had this opportunity to meet and talk to her about her work. She had a solo exhibition ‘Here & There’ at the Parasol Unit. I was mesmerised by her demeanour.
The exhibition showcased Milroys’ obsessive oeuvre with clothing,shoes and accessories since the 80’s with a focus on paintings that addressed materiality and bodily presence/absence through sculptural paintings (playing with differing patterns and colours). Some of the work
invites the viewers’ participation in creating new constellation with every change.
Dress as defined by Roach-Higgins and Eicher is the grouping of ‘body modification and supplements’. This definition extends to the holistic approach to dress, and that concerns the body, body decorations, tattooing, colouring of the skin, hairstyles, piercing of ears and else where, clothing or garments and accessories. I see most of this categories in Milroy’s work. Whether its in a singular or repetitively painted or free standing in three-dimensionality.
The use of dress as an expression of social or cultural identity interests me. I am currently working on a series of traditional Habesha dresses. One of which belonging to my grandmother. For the generation of my grandmothers’, traditional garment is used as an expression of social and cultural identity. As they recognise the importance of garment to culture and its potential to reveal connections to preserve cultural identity. In Milroys’ work I can sense the formation of identity and equally of intimacy from her choices of dresses (patterns) and shoes etc. The viewer is invited to subconsciously builds a body surrounding the object as the objects have created a personally outside the body. That sensation that the object is greater the the body in representation of cultural identity in which I find quite appealing in my work currently.
This idea of garment to conceal the body is not new in my work. In one occasion I have used blue jeans – in different formats to represent the ethnographic from a migrant perspective (as attached) . I wanted to portray the dichotomy of the antithesis of identity and belongingness which is often found in my work.