Atelier E.B. and Panel present The Inventors Of Tradition II
Sportswear is having a bit of a moment of late. With the resurgence of brands such as Fila and Ellesse, and the continued love-affair with classic trainer styles, it seems you’re never far away from an Adidas Superstar or another classic favourite. The evolution of sportswear and its cultural and social links is something that Atelier E.B. – otherwise known as Brussels-based artist Lucy McKenzie and Edinburgh fashion designer Beca Lipscombe – are keen to acknowledge in their latest exhibition, in collaboration with independent design curators Panel. The exhibition Inventors of Tradition II will be held at The Palace of Art in Glasgow's Bellahouston Park later this month.
The project seeks to examine the connections between art and sport: areas which initially seem disparate yet, particularly in Glasgow, are both central in terms of cultural identity. The Palace of Art connects sport and art historically, originally being built to house the Empire Exhibition of 1938, but now used as a sports facility. The location highlights the truly collaborative nature of the exhibition, which will feature not only a sports-inspired fashion collection, furniture and artworks by Atelier E.B., but also specially commissioned works by photographer Eileen Quinlan, choreographer Ellen van Schuylenburch, filmmaker Murray Grigor and tapestry weaver Elizabeth Radcliffe. It seems that such collaborations are a means of continuing the approach that Atelier E.B. present in their work, which McKenzie believes allows "independence from a fashion system we find corrupt and tired." She sees such collaborations as "a fundamental way to challenge power structures" imposed by the fashion world.
Glasgow has a long history of sport, which has been in the spotlight recently with the Commonwealth Games coming to the city last year. Particularly renowned is the football rivalry that runs throughout the city – the subject of a dance performance which will run as part of the exhibition. Atelier E.B. have been influenced by all areas of sportswear, from Soviet gymnastic leotards to football ‘gang’ styles, and with the recent focus on sport in the city, McKenzie suggests that they have been inspired by "sport and not just sportswear" – hence the focus on the many cultural issues stemming from sport. Atelier E.B.’s sponsorship of Edinburgh-based women’s football team Leith Athletic Ladies Club has further fuelled their use of fashion "as a tool to question assumptions about sport." The duo see fashion and sport as being connected through sportswear as a means of expressing cultural allegiances. It is an area bound up in social and cultural associations, and an extremely fertile area of research.
Concerned with the often secretive nature of the fashion industry, in terms of areas such as manufacturing and production, Atelier E.B. are committed to creating garments in a way which is ethical, and strongly oppose the exploitation and plagiarism that often occurs in the production of garments. The collaborative aspect of the exhibition follows McKenzie and Lipscombe's approach to production, where they work closely with local companies and independent producers. They also sell the garments they have created directly to the public with an aim of creating a "dialogue" through communication and feedback. Their work combines an interest in textiles, artisan production and fashion in order to make fine art accessible through the medium of fashion.
Inventors of Tradition II will run at the Palace of Art from 2-30 May, with garments from the collection available in a pop-up shop within the exhibition space itself. There will also be a programme of events associated with the exhibition, such as screenings of Steel upon the Sward and E. P. Sculptor (by filmmaker Murray Grigor) at the Glasgow Film Theatre, and the aforementioned dance performance – a recreation of Yes O Yes, a collaboration between Michael Clark Company and The Fall, led by Ellen van Schuylenburch, and staged by Panel and Atelier E.B. Performances will be given by student dancers, independent dancers and a live ensemble band created by Glasgow-based Tut Vu Vu, also featuring Sacred Paws' Eilidh Rodgers and Cassie Oji of Golden Teacher.
After the success of Inventors of Tradition four years ago, which looked at the legacy of Scotland’s textile industry, and the subsequent collection Ost End Girls in 2013, the follow-up from Atelier E.B. and Panel is not to be missed!