|Creators||Gray, R. and McQueen, A.|
Installation featuring Gray’s airbrush gouache and ink painting alongside McQueen’s clothes. Produced through an ongoing collaboration with McQueen, Gray’s projects set out to create two-dimensional re-imaginings of McQueen’s dresses, engaging with similar themes and pushing the boundaries of the fantastical. The ‘Fashion at Belsay’ exhibition invited top British fashion designers (including Stella McCartney, Paul Smith, Julie
Verhoeven) to create installations within the C14th castle and grounds.
For his installation, Alexander McQueen – with whom Gray has regularly collaborated over the past ten years - asked Gray to
create a painting that would engage with both the design concepts of the three dresses McQueen had chosen to display, and
the decaying stately home itself. To suggest Belsay Hall’s faded grandeur, Gray researched Chinese traditional hand painted
wallpapers for contextual inspiration. Using airbrush gouache and ink, Gray then evolved a way to push the boundaries of the
fantastical, giving the flora and fauna within the illustration a McQueen sensibility: one is unsure whether they are set free from
the embroidered cloth to become living creatures, or captured and stitched down to become part of it. The resulting narrative
painting was enlarged to wall size and displayed within a perspex box alongside McQueen’s clothes. It is now prominently on
display in the reception area at McQueen’s studios.
While Belsay was on, McQueen invited Gray to produce a second work. This developed their shared research interests in how
clothes transform bodies. Gray consequently pushed further his exploration of the ambivalence between figure and ground, with
a painting in which transparent black insects seem to create a moving garment for a woman, who is applying her paintbrush and
getting colour from the smeared feathers of the hybrid creature perched to the left of the painting. This was exhibited and
auctioned alongside a number of other artworks inspired by the word ‘Black’ at a high profile charity show for Terence Higgins
Trust at Earls Court (3.06.04). Gray’s creative collaboration with McQueen is ongoing.