This section contains my research and event reviews
(TEACHER NOTE: Beth did a huge amount of research across a huge amount of sketchbooks both into the history of drag and into a range of artists. When schools closed they were stored in a part of the building that was totally inaccessible to both of us. Once schools reopened we only had two weeks left. I was only travelling in for two afternoons a week and the building manager was not always there to help me. I salvaged what I could and uploaded it here. Beth has added some notes but this does not represent the full extent of her research – Melanie Jones)
My research has two sides
- I researched the history of drag to inform my WWE drag dolls. I did some research into my art a-level but I developed it here trying to create a narrative of drag through history.
- I researched the artists Grayson Perry and Robert Mapplethorpe for research into artists and their career pathways.
History of drag
Grayson Perry Career Pathway
24th March – 1960
Born into a working-class family in Essex. Came up with fantasy worlds to help with anxiety
Started dressing in drag and developed his alter -ego “Claire”
Studied an Art foundation course at Braintree college
Exhibited pottery at a contemporary art show in London at age 20.
BA in Fine Art from Portsmouth Polytechnic
Joined the Neo Naturists and made performances using body paint that tried to recapture the 60s. Also moved to London and lived in a squat.
Posed as “Claire” holding a gun for the piece “Mother of all battles”
Guerrilla Tactics Show exhibited.
Did work with prisoners and curated an exhibition of their work
Became the chancellor of university of the arts London.
Created political art to support Jeremy Corbyn
Making Himself Claire: Grayson Perry’s Dresses exhibited in Liverpool
Reflections on Grayson Perry
- Be yourself no matter what anyone else says
- Express yourself through your art
- Art can be political as well as emotionally expressive
- Drag is beautiful
- Getting an education in art is helpful but not essential, Perry exhibited before finishing his degree.
2) Event Reviews
Olafur Elliason – Tate Modern
Death of a Salesman – The Young Vic
This play was a modern take on Death of a Salesman where a black family were used. This added to the sense of isolation that Willy Loman felt as he tried to pursue the American Dream. The costumes were very traditional, personally I would love to stage a version of this play where Willy secretly wears drag.
The most exciting part of the play, other than the brilliant acting was the set. Window frames, chairs, tables and other household objects all dangled from the ceiling and were lowered in when needed. Willy cares a lot about his house and in this version of the it was very fragmented.
Zandra Rhodes – 50 Years of Fabulous, January 2020
This exhbition gave me lots of ideas for drag clothes for the dolls. These are my favourites because of the head dresses:
Instead of a review, I made my own headdress in response:
State Hermitage Museum – Russia
In the Easter Holiday in 2019, I went on a trip to Russian and Asia, I visted the State Hermitage Museum in Russia.
Here are some inspirational things I saw:
Being Inspired in Hong Kong
How I developed my skills through events and research
Precision and detail – The precision and detail in the russian clothes was amazing. So was the attention to detail in the death of a salesman set. Looking at historical couture was inspiring in this regard. My headpiece required precision and detail.
3D art – The furniture in Death of A Salesman took simple household objects and turned them into art. The 3D installations of Elliason were inspiring, I’d love to make something that huge. Drag outfits and headpieces throughout history are like 3d pieces of art.
Working to a brief – A couture designer for a king or queen might be in serious trouble if they didn’t follow the brief. Someone like Perry has a consistent style but can also be totally free. It’s good to have a balance.
Working to a time constraint – The stagehands and death of a salesman had to have amazing timing to pull off everything on the night. I am impressed with the prolific nature of some of these artists.
Multimedia – Fashion and furniture can have a function and still be art. Grayson Perry combines lots of different mediums and identities in his work.
Anxiety about criticism – These artists probably had to become very thick skinned and not worry about what people said. Grayson Perry didn’t let criticism from his family and the art community ruin his career.