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13 posts categorized "Gothic"

21 January 2015

Bye for now...

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Fran Taylor British Library

Happy New Year!

After looking after our creative industries blog for a few years, I’m going to be moving to a new role within the British Library to promote our Shop and commercial services. 

It’s been an absolute pleasure writing for you, building up a loyal following for our blog and working on projects like Spring Festival and our Jewellery designer in residence. I'd also like to thank all our guest bloggers including fashion forecaster Geraldine Wharry and writer Emma Tucker.

Although you won’t be hearing from me, you might also like to check out our Innovation and Enterprise blog for entrepreneurs and our Living Knowledge blog to get a ‘behind the scenes’ view of the British Library. Find me on Twitter and via my website.

All the best,

Fran

09 December 2014

Milliner Mary Franck on designing for the British Library Shop

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Mary Franck set up her business in July 2011 and is an emerging talent in millinery. Based in East London, she designs and makes seasonal and ready-to-wear collections.

To tie in with our Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination exhibition, Mary designed a beautiful purple lace bow headpiece and spikey skull cap in collaboration with the Library, to be sold in the British Library Shop.

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As we’ve mentioned in previous articles (see our post on Gothic fashion), gothic literature and goth culture continues to have a huge influence on fashion, from the catwalks to streetwear.

We asked Mary to tell us a little bit about herself and to show us some of her work.

“I studied History and History of Art at university in London. After graduating, I worked at Christie’s auction house for two years in the Arms & Armour Department; I can definitely say that this background has influenced my designs. I launched the label Mary Franck in July 2011 and currently work from an East London studio designing season collections as well as collaborating with designers and stylists.”

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“I was approached by the buyer for the British Library Shop in June about collaboration. Bespoke hats are a new venture for the BL Shop and I was asked to design a number of headpieces in-keeping with the new 'Gothic' exhibition of which Duncan selected two designs, which I realised and are available to purchase in store and online.”

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“To create a seasonal collection, I choose a theme that inspires me and start sketching designs drawing on that theme - whether it be a period in history, a genre of art (my latest Spring/Summer 2015 collection was inspired by Pop Art and the 1970s) or something as literal as spices - like my Spring/Summer 2014 collection.”

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“I have just started creating my next collection - Autumn/Winter 2015-16 which will be launched in February. I am also working on some exciting collaborations as well as orders for some exciting new stockists.”

See Mary’s Gothic-inspired hats on the British Library Shop website

 

02 December 2014

The new Gothic Type

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In an earlier piece, writer Emma Tucker explored the history of gothic type and its development in Europe. Here we trace the ways new designers are reclaiming blackletter, and explore the typographic choices made in the exhibition itself.

Despite its dark historic associations, gothic, or blackletter, type is still in use today, and not just in hackneyed representations of horror. In addition to its prevalence in certain music genres, contemporary designers are rediscovering blackletter and reclaiming it.

Poster for Only Lovers Left Alive, using the FF Brokenscript typeface

FF Brokenscript specimen, from FontFont.com

A poster for recent Jim Jarmusch 'horror' film Only Lovers Left Alive uses FF Brokenscript, a modernised version of traditional blackletter that retains all the defining angled cuts and snake tongue-esque forked stems, but with some some much-needed legibility.

Poster designed by Michael Bierut for the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine

Its roots in the religious are also being explored, albeit in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way, and gothic type found a renewed place in the church earlier this year, when the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York issued an event poster that managed to be both irreverent and reverential, all at once.

Designer David Rudnick's HyperZeit typeface, a contemporary take on traditional blackletter

Elsewhere, young designers are creating new interpretations of the design, taking the character of traditional gothic type and applying it to contemporary typeface designs, such as designer David Rudnick's HyperZeit typeface, which has been used in recent record artwork and posters.

Perhaps ironically – but purposefully – blackletter is at a minimum in the British Library's Terror and Wonder exhibition, with gothic references kept subtle. The exhibition designer explains, “The arrangement of all the graphics of the panels are referencing tombstones, and the serif that we chose has these really triangular, quite aggressive serifs. It's a reworking of Stanley Morison's typeface Times new Roman, and as it gets larger the more extreme it gets.” She adds, pointing to a particularly vicious spur on the capital G, “that G could kill you, right?

Gothic type also makes its appearance in the pieces on display, and even within the actual literature itself. Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto states in the preface that the work was found in the library of an ancient Catholic family, and, claims it was “printed at Naples, in the black letter, in the year 1529”, calling to mind images of a dark, closely-printed lost manuscript.

Even in the cover of the first edition of Dracula there's a nod to the spikiness of gothic type in the stake-like descender of the R.

Other book covers seem to reference the dark inkiness of blackletter through the use of another, more legible, typeface.

Although not using 'typical' gothic type, this cover design seems to be referencing the dark, angular nature of blackletter


Dark though its story is, and despite its unavoidable historic links, gothic type demonstrates the power that type and letters can hold, both as a visual style, and its ability to provoke a response. In the words of German graphic designer and typographer Otl Aicher, “Writing systems are political, and typography is just as rich a source of cultural insights as gastronomy.”

19 November 2014

From Street Goth to Health Goth: why Goth fashion never dies

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Written by our guest blogger Geraldine Wharry, known for her Future Trend consultancy based in London and inspiration sharing platform Trend Atelier, with clients ranging from WGSN to Samsung. We asked her to research the influence of gothic on fashion, to tie in with our current exhibition: Terror and Wonder, the Gothic Imagination. You can see more Gothic articles here and also on the Library's Gothic Pinterest board. This is what Geraldine told us.

The Goth subculture and style permutations associated with it have continuously held their place in fashion since the seventies. Weaving in and out of different influences, it’s a difficult group to pin down to one defined aesthetic but what has remained consistent is the Goth’s love for the undead and all things dark and macabre, with different offshoots ranging from Steam Punk to Japanese street style. It’s a fashion medley embracing Victorian influences just as much as Science Fiction and at times pink hair, making it a very rich subject to follow as a trend forecaster. The most evident glue between High fashion and the Goth subculture is the theatrical drama essential to its backdrop.

Street Goth

More recently, Goth fashion has entered the realm of street wear and hip-hop culture with designers such as Rick Owens, Alexander Wang and Hood By Air leading the way. Paris-based American designer Rick Owens, the most pivotal to this latest interpretation of Goth style, has his own cult following which includes rapper A$ap Rocky. With coveted sneaker namesake designs and signature long line tees, it wasn’t long before the Rick Owens look made a great impact on the entire hip hop world. By early 2013, the term Street Goth made it big on the fashion scene and was adopted by the likes of Kanye West, Drake and Jay-Z.

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What is interesting about Rick Owens’s influence on street wear is the paradox. Whilst dark and macabre, his collections have an introspective and monastic quality, a far cry from hip-hop’s usual bling and swagger. Owens is most famous for his cloak shapes inspired by the monk’s “habit” which he reworks into sculptural creations, layered and wrapped silhouettes which can evoke Frankenstein’s bride’s dress. His cultural references are far more complex, but some interesting links are worth highlighting such as the makeup used in his Spring Summer 2015 collection, reminiscent of Japanese Butoh dancers, known as “the dance of darkness”. Rick Owens has been able to combine such references with street culture, making a big statement with American dance crew “Step with Momentum” who modeled his Spring Summer 2014 collection whilst crumping and stomping. The link with music and self-expression is prevalent in Street Goth style with one group standing out - which could also be compared to Frankenstein and his bride– Die Antwoord the South African counterculture rave group often connected with designer Alexander Wang.

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More recent fashion labels are emerging out of New York’s scene such as Hood By Air’s, designed by Shayne Oliver who brings an anarchist and warrior quality to his collections inspired by a fallen hero, civil protest and street warfare. In line with HBA and Alexander Wang in New York, Nasir Mazhar in London, street wear labels are replacing dominant logos with messages around death, oblivion and anger - all within a black and white palette.

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Ninja Goth

There is a Ninja fighter quality to street Goth style, one we could also link to Samurai armours because of the silhouette. One of the key aspects to the Street Goth “uniform” is multiple layering and skirt length tees, shorts or skirts worn over skinny pants, in line with Rick Owens’s cloak like proportions mentioned earlier. Mixing surfaces, juxtaposing matte and shine with leather, jersey – even sheer fabrications – gives the monochromatic look more textural dimension. Interestingly this trend, originally led by menswear is now being picked up in Womenswear as seen in Yamamoto’s recent Adidas Y3 Spring Summer 2015 collection. Street Goth taps into youth culture, the pull between good and evil and expressing discontent, with underlying themes of urban warfare. We can also link the use of leather and elongated silhouettes with motorcycle clothing as well as cult movie character Blade, a half vampire-half mortal fighting evil.

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Health Goth

There has always been an intimate relationship between athletic clothing and street wear, therefore it wasn’t long and somewhat of a natural progression for Street Goth to influence the sports and health industry. In itself this could be seen as ironic as we don’t usually associate Goths with a healthy glow. Could the Health Goth movement be about toning your body in the most emotional, melancholic way possible? This is not the case according to Health Goth Facebook page creators Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott (the latter not to be confused with the fashion designer). Health Goth combines subcultural including Goth and cyber punk with the mainstream world of sport, bringing Goth fashion into a whole new context, tying itself to “Accelerationist aesthetics” a movement which looks at how subcultures can develop in our capitalist society, whilst subverting its visual codes – in this case Nike and Adidas.

One of the attendees at our recent talk “The New Black: from subculture to high culture“ at the British Library pointed out that Health Goth also originated from the need to sustain a lifestyle of clubbing and nocturnal habits. The fact is the media is jumping on the new term “Health Goth”, emboldened by the trend for dark monochromatic athletic gear and irony of comparing macabre aesthetics with Yoga clothing. Only time will tell how this trend will evolve as we see Goth fashion continue to navigate seamlessly from one style category to another.

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11 November 2014

Cultures of the Dark Side: A day of Fashion and Music at the British Library

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On Sunday we held a full-day of gothic inspired events at the Library, to tie in with our current exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination.

I went to two of the events - the first with Dave McKean and Andy Vella on 'the art of the gothic album sleeve' and the second called the 'new black: from subculture to high culture' with fashion historian Amber Jane Butchart, academics Dr Catherine Spooner and Royce Mahawatte, designer Nange Magro and fashion forecaster Geraldine Wharry.

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Image: Andy Vella and Dave McKean

Dave McKean and Andy Valla talked about their love of experimental, tactile design – playing with photographic processes, hand created fonts, drawings, paintings and collage. For example, Andy made his font for the Cure’s album sleeve using a cotton bud, some bleach and photographic paper. You can read a full write up here.

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Image: Audience for 'the art of the gothic album sleeve'

The second event hurtled through the history of goth and gothic-inspired fashion. Here’s a quick definition: ‘goth’ is a subculture from the 1980s onwards and is a collection of smaller subcultures e.g. Victoriana, lolita, hip hop gothic, steampunk and health gothic. Whereas 'gothic’ is a much broader term and embraces art, architecture, literature and film - think beauty in decay, vampires, ghosts, churches, graveyards, etc. Its influence spreads to fashion in many ways from dandyish portrayals of vampires to monastic tailoring trends in menswear.

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There was also a gothic-themed market and DJs.

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BL_Goth_9thNov14-1664Interior: Phoebe Richardson

In case you were wodnering what you'd wear to such an event, I thought I'd share with you some images of our lovely audience.

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 You could also follow the conversation on Twitter at #BLGothic. 

 All images taken by Luca Sage.

 

06 November 2014

Cultures of the dark side: Meet our Gothic stall-holders

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On Sunday 9 November 2014, as part of the Library’s Cultures of the Dark Side: A day of Gothic music and fashion, we’ll be running a pop-up market in the British Library Entrance Hall. Come and meet our stall-holders:

Conjurer's Kitchen logo

Annabel de Vetten, Conjurer’s Kitchen
Annabel de Vetten is the creative brains behind Conjurer's Kitchen. Formerly trained as a sculptor, and having made a full-time living as a successful fine art painter, Annabel is taking the cake world by storm, presenting cake and other food art that's well outside the fare you'd find in your local bakery. Drawing inspiration from the things she loves - horror movies, alternative art, and whatever strikes her fancy, Annabel's creations have been featured TV and in the national press.

Benjamin Phillips DevilsBenjamin Phillips
Benjamin Phillips is a London-based artist and illustrator. His work can be both charming and amusing whilst at other times more sinister and melancholy. Offering a glimpse into strange and abstract narratives his creative works are heavily laced with humour. His art has been exhibited in galleries and print publications across the world, but has also been applied to book covers, album sleeves and other merchandise. 

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Face Lace

Face Lace is a British brand specialising in ready to wear Makeup designs. It launched in 2012 and was founded by Phyllis Cohen. She is a make-up artist who is famous for her intricate designs and bold fashion. The designs won’t fade or smudge and can be re-used. All of the designs are made in the studio, by hand, in small high quality runs. Face Lace now has retailers in 16 countries. Phyllis has also used the British Library’s collections and her products are being stocked in our Shop. 

Kitschkrypt

Helen Norman
Kitsch from the Krypt focuses on Helen's main interests; kitschy colours and gaudy jewels with images and icons of horror, macabre and cult favourites. When she creates her jewellery and accessories her tongue is firmly in her cheek.

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Jack Penny
Jack Penny is an illustrative artist whose work takes inspiration from the unseen characteristics of people. Jack is drawn to human imperfection - the obscure and secret - the parts we try to hide. He takes these individualities and highlights them in bold, loud colours and abstractions, creating uneasy, often gothic work.

 

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Jazmine Miles-Long

Jazmine Miles-Long is an ethical taxidermist working only with animals that have died from natural causes or as road casualties. Jazmine produces modern, naturalistic taxidermy on commission for artists, museums, conservation studios, collectors and photographers among others. She is also on the committee of The Guild of Taxidermists and is the Editor of their annual journal.

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Phoebe Richardson
Phoebe Richardson is a London-based graphic designer. Her range of Bone China has received press in a number of publications including The Book of Skulls (Lawrence King) and magazines including GQ, Stylist, Time Out, Living Etc and Sunday Times Style. Other work includes music packaging for the Pixies and David Lynch with artistic direction from Vaughan Oliver. Phoebe is currently redesigning the website for luxury fashion retailer Jaeger, whilst continuing to sell anatomical china to people who love bones. She has also used the British Library collections for inspiration.

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Sarah Healey
Sarah Healey's unique skulptural skulls reflect a fascination for the macabre with twists of eccentricity. Using real bird skulls she creates exclusive one off pieces using an eclectic mix of materials and themes. The symbolic contrast between beauty and decay. These captivating sculptures can be worn as brooches, hatpins, hairpieces and pendants.


You can find out more about the day on the British Library website (look out for our Gothic fashion event at 1.45pm.


04 November 2014

Off the Map competition: Turning Gothic literature into games

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One of our Digital Curators at the British Library – Stella Wisdom – is working on a great project to encourage games makers to use the Library’s archive for inspiration. For the last few years she’s been running Off the Map, a partnership competition with GameCity and Crytek to challenge UK higher education students to make videogames based on British Library collections.

This year’s competition had a gothic theme to accompany the Library’s current exhibition, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination. The exhibition showcases manuscripts and hand-written drafts of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and the Twilight series (check it out, it’s on in London until 20 Jan 2015).

Stella created this video which shows footage of last year’s winning entry from Pudding Lane Productions, De Montfort University. It also gives details of the 2014 gothic sub-themes and shows flythrough clips from this year’s shortlisted entries.

The third winning entry was Team Shady Agents from University of South Wales in Newport with their Edgar Allan Poe inspired game Crimson Moon. The second winning entry was Team Flying Buttress from De Montfort University, who created a visually rich interpretation of Dracula's Whitby. British Library Chief Executive Roly Keating announced the winning entry: Nix, this was created by Jackson Rolls-Gray, Sebastian Filby and Faye Allen from the University of South Wales.Using Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset for 3D gaming,it challenges players to reconstruct Fonthill Abbey via collecting hidden and moving glowing orbs in a spooky underwater world.

Of course, these projects never happen on their own. Stella worked with our Curator for Terror and Wonder Tim Pye and Tom Harper, our Maps Curator, as well as the lovely teams at GameCity and Crytek.

Plans are currently underway for the third competition: 'Alice's Adventures: Off the Map', which we are launching at the Library at the start of December. I’m also working on a few Alice-themed projects myself (watch this space).

You can read more about the project on the Library’s Digital Scholarship blog.

03 November 2014

Photos from our Halloween LATE with Les Enfants Terribles

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Last Friday we celebrated Halloween with a very spooky LATE event at the British Library. Here are some of the photo highlights. The evening was run in partnership with theatre company Les Enfants Terribles, who put on a fantastic show. You could find out if you were a saint or a sinner at our funeral inspired experience and see our current exhibition, Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination. 

Interested in our Gothic season of events? Come along to our Cultures of the Dark Side: a day of Gothic Music and Fashion on Sunday 9 November 2014.

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