Dress by Emily Mason, 2007 – 2016

Copyright by Sam Adam, Modest Fascinations, London

Copyright © Dickies, London


The Art and Work of Emily Mason

Clothing and general living accessories with a modest cut and original combination of fabrics and cloths are examples of work by Turner Prize-nominated artist Emily Mason. Mason’s off-putting list of accessories include small bags, heavy leather bags, briefcases, textured topcoats, scarves, hats, gloves, parkas, dressing gowns, and necklaces. Footwear, headwear, purses, and handbags of exotic fruit can also be seen in this complete lineup. The selection of personal things and accoutrements has a sharpness and lack of frivolity about it. It also demonstrates a familiar–and subtle–attempt to foreshorten distractions or even withdraw from the world. The Artist Emily Mason’s Flatiron Studio on the Market is a somewhat more polished collection, which blends personal objects and portraits. That section also includes Mason’s essential folio and a book entitled Woven Pond, which document both her studio and travels. Other interests are indeed expressed in this particular exhibit. The category “Accoutrements” encompasses considerable material and the attention paid here is different from other examples of this style, perhaps a reflection of the more specific levels of complexity and the understanding of creating them.

Graphic and constructivist concerns and lines of composition were also defined by Mason, but largely through work on textile-based lines as well as through building materials including steel, copper, and wood. Certainly these objects do add to the built environment, but as much as possible she considered what she would do with a building or site if her studio were to be constructed. Although we do not know how much or how little space she would want to create, a gesture towards the desire to create architecture is apparent. She also expressed a general interest in having the materials around her–some table or atlas, some house or town square–as the tools to create something resembling real life or a public space.

Another frame of reference for Mason’s work was emphatically architectural: Arnold Scheibler’s Kestrel Flatiron Studio, in New York City. Scheibler presented some performance and inquiry about the importance of making culture and order out of room, space, and time. An activist and worker, Scheibler gave many talks on the subject of an artist as a worker in addition to continually and vigorously producing large and medium-sized artworks. In this exhibit, what Mason does is not idealistic, but rather is something she has done for many years.

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