JW Anderson 'Disbodient Bodies'

by - Sunday, January 07, 2018










I've never been a huge fan of making New Year's resolutions, but if I were to do so for 2018, top of my list would definitely be making an effort to immerse myself in more local art and culture. I totally forgot until this week when I was clearing out my hard drive that there was one thing that initially inspired this new determination – an exhibition I was lucky enough to catch way back in May of last year.

Inspired by the history of the building and of course, it’s namesake, sculptor Barbara Hepworth herself, “Disobedient Bodies” is the brainchild of British Designer JW Anderson, esteemed for his work with collections for brands as diverse as Topshop and Versace, and the first designer to win both Mens and Womenswear designer of the year at The British Fashion Council Awards.


The first in a series of new multi-discipline collaborations for The Hepworth, his showing celebrated a more abstracted take on the physical form, curating together over 100 artefacts in the art, fashion, ceramics and design worlds to, as Anderson puts it, “disregard obvious characteristics and ask how things communicate with each other in 2017”.



Seperated by hangings made from archived JW Anderson archives, the labyrinth of colour and form that made up the show was even more striking against the Hepworth brutalist designs and wide open windows that gaze upon the gushing river below. Disturbing this peace were several standout exhibits – Issey Miyake’s 1990’s ‘Bamboo Pleats’ dress danced from the ceiling next to her ‘Lantern dress’, both stunning in their levels of detail and exaggeration of the shoulder and waist. Similar tropes played out around the corner for Commes des Garcons ‘2D’ collection, the stuff of children’s paper doll nostalgia in bold primary colours, attracting a steady queue of photo takers.




It wasn’t all clothing – Hans Bellmer’s ‘La Demi-Poupee’ adds a surrealist tone to affairs, inspired by rebellion against 1930’s beauty standards during the Nazi regime. Across the hall, exhibition visitors are invited to sit on ‘The Zig Zag Chair’ by Gerrit Rietveld, a minimal affair that doesn’t feel like it should withstand my weight but somehow does (even after a hefty serving of the Hepworth café’s excellent Victoria Sponge.)

And then of course there is the piece de resistance, the image you’ll have seen all across social media this year. JW Anderson’s ’28 Jumpers’ took over a whole room, a jungle gym of ceiling-to-floor knits that mimics the experience of pulling on your favourite sweater. A big hit amongst clamouring kids and insta-ready parents alike, this is an exhibit that encourages interaction, braiding the elongated sleeves or peeping out from beneath the layers of dense knit. It’s the stuff of true modern museum- stripping away the glass cabinets and ‘do not touch’ signs, it presents fashion at it’s best – tactile, crafted to last and best of all, a hell of a lot of fun.

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