Friday, 1 August 2014

Style and Talent - an interview

Another nice interview although this time with Style & Talent.



The Erotic Art of Designer Lisa Z Morgan



strumpetandpink
Introducing Lisa Z Morgan, artist, author and master of luxuriously provocative knickers. As one half of Strumpet and Pink, Morgan has been inspired by her exploration into desire and uses the seductive intricacies of womens’ underwear to express her thoughts on femininity and sensuality. The product – a series of astonishingly beautiful couture panties, blurring the line between fashion and art with their delicate hand knitted structures and elaborate silk silhouettes.
Strumpet and Pink’s whimsical vision of couture underwear romanced us all at Style and Talent, so we leapt at the opportunity to ask Lisa a few questions about her work.
Your work is both art and fashion. When you design your knickers, which comes first, or is your approach a combination of both?
My work has always straddled art and fashion or fashion and art in some shape or form. Even before STRUMPET & PINK I was exploring this crossover and have always been fascinated by the body and how it connects and relates to the work. So to my mind there is not a difference in the way that I approach my work, the concept or idea. It comes from the same place. The difference, I suppose, is how the works are ultimately experienced because you have to build the body into the final vision. Art tends to be viewed at an objective distance and we are generally denied the tactile consummation. Fashion on the other hand is all about touch and the body becomes integral in bringing the idea to life.
Many of the names of your knickers are reminiscent of fairytales and whimsical characters, is this where you find the inspiration for your pieces?
For a time it certainly was. When Melanie Probert and I began working together (she left the business in 2011), it was the irreverent play around the ideas that we enjoyed the most and there were particular affinities and sensibilities that we shared together during our formative years. Even though we didn’t know each other as girls there were parallel experiences taking place. We were both enthralled by wild flowers, and certain fairy tales and characters. We read The Brothers Grimm and those by Hans Christian Andersen, which explored dark-ness and other-ness. Fairy stories in their original form can be very frightening, challenging and often there is a tenuous struggle between the dark and the light and all woven into an immersive narrative. This is what inspired us and many of our pieces were filled with an equal contradiction i.e. the pieces often ‘appeared’ to be very delicate and beautiful, but on closer investigation/exploration an undercurrent of a different nature was revealed.
How important is the use of fabrics, textures, tailoring in conveying your artistic message?
Lisa Z MorganThey are the foundation and touchstone. Textures and fabrics are what we connect with on a sensuous level. I believe that whenever or wherever the body is concerned there needs to be a respect for how we treat it; how we touch it and how we engage with it. A fabric that is made of wonderful materials and fibers has a life to it. It breathes and moves and shifts in response to the body’s temperature. Cut is also invaluable because if a garment is cut well you can feel amazing. A good cut flatters and forms the body and in return the body responds to this by feeling wonderful, which does affect us psychologically. It becomes a reciprocal exchange.
In the work that we are creating within The Lavender Hinge we are exploring ‘cut’ and fabric as the main concept behind the work. The intricacies in tailoring are amplified and exaggerated and yet the finished work is displayed/articulated, in the two-dimensional.
Your pieces are very powerful and visually stimulating, what are the specific emotions you want to evoke in people, whether wearing them or looking at them?
Definitely a sense of beauty and wonder but the looking makes you long for something more. I liken it to wanting others to see or feel what I am thrilled by when I look into a flower. On the surface you can be blown away by the beauty, the colour or the form, but in taking the time to explore the flower more closely you find and discover something else entirely. Flowers are supremely wonderful because they completely disarm. On the outside they can ‘appear’ to be pretty, sweet or beautiful but on closer inspection they become outrageous, grotesque, brazen and bold. They exude sexuality and with every part of them being ‘designed’ for a very specific purpose. The knickers, I believe have something of these qualities. Their beauty is one thing and their story reveals something more but it is the hidden details that take you on an entirely different journey. Some people will find the ideas bizarre and odd while others will find them utterly exquisite. I think specific pieces tap into very particular sensibilities. But what I would always wish to evoke or invoke is a story for the wearer.
You authored a book entitled, ‘Design Behind Desire’. What was the idea behind it and how did you realise that idea?
My work is concerned with emotional and sensuous perception and how we might access, explore and embody these emotional dynamics. Over time, these findings and explorations developed quite naturally into a personal Philosophy of the Sensuous and which, by default, spilled over into desire. Desire has thus become the palpable constant within my work both as a concept and motivational force.
It was through a presentation about such findings, made manifest as a perfume ‘Pink-ness No.6’, at Kiki de Montparnasse in New York in 2009 that I met Patrice Farameh. She was already aware of my work through STRUMPET & PINK but was taken with the sensuous discourse that I was engaged with and it was from here, and over a period of discussions, that she commissioned me to author and curate a book about desire. Design Behind Desire was the concept I developed.
I believe that desire is a fundamental part of life. It is the drive or motivation, which propels us towards our goals/dreams/ideals and ideas. Desire draws us to that ‘something’ beyond ourselves but there are also the small-scale desires, which are crucial to our tacit daily experience. To taste, to touch to smell, to listen, to speak, to engage with something which resonates with us. But we can certainly cultivate our desires, by tickling and tending to them. You can have an internal desire but generally we require a catalyst to ignite the spark whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual.
Design Behind Desire has the erotic and sexual facets of desire as the focus and explores the interplay between this energy and the value of the imagination as a potent fuel. Realizing the idea was pretty seamless as the subject of desire connected so directly to all the preoccupations within my work and research. My aim was then to create a book whereby the imagery and ideas set ones own personal narratives in motion. I did not want to create a book about desire, which was simply a fait accompli. I wanted the reader/viewer of the book to be enticed into an immersive experience with their own mind imagery.
Do you intend to explore other creative avenues in your career?
Lisa Z Morgan3I have and I do, such is the attribute of having age on my side. In 2011, I Co-Founded The Lavender Hinge with artist Eric Magnuson. We create works, which straddle fashion and art as well as the erotic and cerebral, and therefore life and fiction. Although these works are not generally wearable, (having said that we are currently creating some beautifully tailored sandwich boards and assisted garments) the concepts and ideas that we are exploring use traditional tailoring techniques or are inspired by traditional quilt making techniques but the final works take the form of a painting or are made through “the lens of the History of painting”. To us they are sewn paintings and sartorial gestures.
I also have the pleasure of creating a written or visual piece for the Laboratory Arts Collective’s Biannual. Desire is the theme of the next edition and currently I am still ruminating about the form my contribution will take.
I think I would certainly like to do more with the written word.
What kind of woman do you envisage in your work?
A woman who has a unique sense of self and embraces all that she is.

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About Me

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Lisa Z. Morgan is an artist, designer and writer. The subject and object of desire has been a palpable constant within her artistic expression both as a motivation and in its embodiment or articulation. Through her creativity and research Morgan examines how the value of provenance, of rarity and storytelling, puts into question or provokes our understanding and relationship towards desire and the desire impulse. Her focus has been how we may access, stimulate and touch the internal points of registration or the emotional dynamics of bodily perception. In essence she attempts to define and make manifest the feeling of feeling. Her work inhabits a space where art, semiotics, design and fashion intersect. Morgan is the Co-Founder of STRUMPET & PINK and the Co-Founder of The Lavender Hinge. She is the author and creative editor of Design Behind Desire and also a contributor to SHOWstudio and The Laboratory Arts Collective.

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