Ashley Quan graduated from ACAD in 2011. I’ve always admired her beautiful prints on cloth, life and her wearable art pieces. Since I never really got to know the concepts behind her work during her years in ACAD, stuff I thought she’d be perfect for this interview.
Since you’re a fibre artist, to you what is the difference between wearable clothes as art and wearable clothes as fashion?
I find that garments or fashion pieces usually fall into two categories, ready to wear which is usually for the common person, found in stores and are generally just aesthetically pleasing; and there is high fashion which sometimes crosses over to wearable art and vice versa. To me the difference is concept and story, ready to wear may be inspired by something but is usually lacking concept. high fashion is sometimes completely unwearable in daily life but tells a story and concept, many regard this as art. How I place myself in this is an artist who makes wearable garments. The difference between artistic concept and concept based on inspiration is that artistic concept is built on a story or idea that pulls the viewer in, it wants you to think, it wants you to challenge boundaries and possibly change your point of view. For me being a fibre artist a garment starts with the fabric: my style is creating prints turned into dresses that are aesthetically pleasing from afar to pull the viewer in only to find that the prints harbour more than expected, many don’t realize this detail and it acts as almost a reward for those who are curious enough to take a closer look. That being said, sometimes wearable art doesn’t contain concept and becomes something that is just aesthetically pleasing-that doesn’t fit into daily wear, this realm is a little hazy for me.
When you are making a collection, where do you look for inspiration?
When I’m looking for inspiration the smallest thing can ripple effect into huge inspiration. Last year I was inspired by painters that used the same aesthetic appeal as myself, creating prints/garments/photographs based on their paintings such as Turner’s The Slave Ship. This trickled into my next collection where I showed at Parkshow which had a 1930’s theme. I pulled from my personal life and decided to make it about lovers being torn apart; combining these I made prints that referenced WW2 and juxtaposed them as the woman waiting at home for her lover to come back to her unaware of the acts he was committing over seas(this idea was inspired by Goya’s The Third of May and Jacques-Louis David’s The Oath of the Horatii), this collection was called ‘Lover, Come Home’. Research plays a huge part in my work which in turn can change a spark of inspiration into a collection with a solid story and concept behind it.
I’ve been seeing some beautiful bright colored prints on your current collection, what is your theme and concept behind your new collection?
My collections are always based on a story and concept, sometimes some more than others. This specific collection was a little bit different. To be honest it isn’t the “deepest” collection. I was focusing on technique and challenging myself to create a print that was technically difficult with many layers. I wanted color and I wanted the print to fill the majority of the white space. I started researching Madagascar and the chameleons that resided there. I learned that Madagascar was actually home to many plants and animals that cannot be found anywhere else in the world; which I thought was pretty awesome. For this collection I am moving away from the standard runway presentation and bringing it back to a more artistic approach, showing in a gallery combining a runway show with drawings highlighting the hand printed fabric.
Here are some pictures of her past/recent works: