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Sunday, March 04, 2012

Living Vintage...

...that's me, apparently.  I went to a vintage fair today with a couple of friends.  Held in a large church hall, it looked for all the world like the worlds' most expensive jumble sale.  There was the occasional gem...like a Frank Usher top, far too small for me but incredibly beautiful; if Robin had a Proper Job, I would have bought it...would love to collect beautiful clothes... sigh.  Mostly, though, it was stuff that was masquerading as vintage like a Primark top which could only have been a year or two old.  It does, however, make you realise that you are getting older... particularly when you recognise the clothes you used to wear, never mind those of your mother or your grandmother.  Etsy defines vintage as anything older than 20 years, which covers a multitude of sins. 

Vintage is really fashionable; everybody does it.  I find myself looking to earlier times for inspiration for Myrtle and Rose, things that are gentle, feminine, flattering, flowing.  I'm still not convinced by the vogue for using vintage imagery in art, though.  It has become ubiquitous, a whole Somerset Studio type style, using rubber stamps and copyright free imagery.  It started, I think, at least in part, because people were worried about copyright issues, and felt it was much better to take images from the past, that were out of copyright, rather than risk being pursued for breach of copyright from living artists.  It's a pity, I think, that people use this type of image instead of being inspired by their own work.  I think it shows a vast lack of confidence in our own abilities.

I guess I'm musing about this because I'm doing something I said I never would (yes, again...); using vintage inspirations.  But they are exactly that.  I'm not copying vintage clothes or hats or bags, just looking back at a gentler, less complicated time and making work that is mine, but with a different feel to it.  Not sure if I'm making any sense, here, but I dare say that's not unusual.  I'm happy to use vintage fabrics when I can find them; they dye better than contemporary fabrics, and are often of better quality.  In addition, they have a feeling of story behind them.  Interesting to repurpose them, to give them the amount of usage they were made for, albeit in a different way to what was originally intended. 

If I ever work out what my relationship to/with vintage is, I'll let you know.  Meanwhile, I'd love to hear what you think about this phenomenon... will it run and run?  I chatted to one of the stall holders, a woman around my own age (most of the stall holders were in their twenties, interestingly enough, which perhaps explains why so much of what was on offer did not seem to be vintage at all...).  She said that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find vintage clothing and jewellery, and it is becoming increasingly expensive, because it has become so fashionable.  But, she said, it won't go on for ever.  When it stops, prices will drop and things will flood back onto the market.    I'm tempted to think that it is one fashion that won't go away; the market for nostalgia is unlimited.  What do you think?

3 comments:

Heidi Rand said...

So interesting - I have been thinking along the exact same lines as you. Not so much about vintage clothing, but the aspect of people using out-of-copyright images in their art so they don't have to steal or pay for images. I've always taken a strict line that I use my own photos to generate my images and designs that I sell. When I see others' mixed media collages I do wonder whether they've paid for the elements that aren't original to them. I have a large collection of old postcards and have thought of using the ones that are out-of-copyright to generate some new designs, possibly to use on zazzle. If I do, though, I'd start another shop distinct from my original artwork.

Laume said...

I think that vintage to some degree or other will stick around indefinitely because the ability to find and use it through the web is unlimited. Too, we are hopefully changing how we interact with the world, resources are NOT unlimited, and it just feels better to use things that already ARE instead of using up more resources creating new. As for style, vintage can mean anything from Victoriana to 60's Mod - everything old is new again, so I suppose everything we do always has a hint of vintage about it.

Lindy said...

Just shared a quote with friends, What we love in childhood stays in our heart forever. Mary Jo Puthey. Explains a lot of the 'looking black's this gen is doing. I was thrilled to read you are working on photos. I free machine embroider on photo canvas. If you would like to see how that looks go to Reflections on my blog http.//quilts-artfromtheheart.com. So glad O get your email...you are a thoughtful and intelligent writer.