We are drawn to the beauty in objects and imbue these curios with significance. There is something about Serena Partridges tiny constructions that draw us in and speaks of that inherent appreciation of such things. Partridge’s own fascination is for historical European costume. She is drawn to the narrative of the flamboyant fashions paraded by the wealthy through history and what happens to them as they move from haute couture to artifact. Expressions of status, vanity and frivolity are documented, studied and become the domain of scholarship and academia. The work is commentary rather than confrontation. There is no judgment, but an acceptance of our ability to revere the nonsensical and be seduced by the sparkly.
Partridge is not concerned with producing historically accurate replicas. She distorts form and plays with scale and proportion to create caricatures of fashion objects, emphasizing their superficiality and futility. These follies are then presented with invented provenance and displayed as museum acquisitions in a fictional collection. By establishing their antiquity we are left to imagine the stories behind these objects. Their diminutive scale removes them from the ‘real’ world and in to the realms of fantasy and fairytale.
Serena developed her love of working in the small scale while studying design crafts at art school in Hereford in the late 1990s. “Half way through my first year, I started making gloves, after I came across a pair in Hay-on-Wye, which set me off in that direction….” This initiated her continuing interpretation of flamboyant fashions paraded by the wealthy élite, such as 16th century Venetian platforms or the superfluous coiffures supported by Marie Antoinette. Her work mixes antique fabric and trimmings with any material that will achieve the desired effect: kid gloves are reborn as elongated shoes and a fragmented wedding veil becomes the filling of a six-tier gateau, while heels are carved in wood and coiffures are fashioned from strands of fine silk.
Silver Slipers with Royal Trim
Miniature mixed media slippers by British artist Serena Partridge, framed in shadow box pale wood frame. Shoes approx. 3 inch long, framed size 14 x 10 inch.