On Wednesday, 9 November 2016, we had the great pleasure to attend a collaborative unveiling by Vanessa Gounden, artist Amita Makan and Reach for Recovery. As breast cancer is an illness that affects numerous woman, mothers and daughters. This was truly and evening that excited me, as to be witness between these art forms and how they collaborated to truly bring forth something amazing. Personally for me the evening ended up more emotional that I would have thought as my own mother is currently going through breast cancer and treatment. Each of the pieces created reminded me of the steps she has gone through and the amazing strength she has shown through the last months. But her journey still continues and I am amazed at her warrior attitude. This collaboration is a true reflection of, each survivors journey.
BUT BEFORE I GET OFF TOPIC VANESSA GOUNDEN’S TEAM EXPLAIN THE THOUGH PROCESS THAT WENT INTO THIS COLLABORATIVE COLLECTION:
For the collaboration, Makan produced a series of artworks in fabric, a decision she writes is based on the fact that “Fabric is reminiscent of skin – sensual, porous, and vulnerable to time,” and further that “The art-making process combined with the repetitive act of cutting threads, fabrics, and obsessive stitching have strong associations to the disease of breast cancer.” Her use of cotton gauze and silk threads provide further association with surgical suturing.
Makan’s artworks form three groups: Waiting, Ravaged Butterflies and Links and Chains. Together these provide a narrative, which in many ways becomes the account of all women who experience this form of pain.
Makan’s chronicle provides the conceptual inspiration and visual reference for Vanessa Gounden’s range of garment designs. Using digital tools, Gounden reinterprets Makan’s works as prints on garments and, in this way, these narratives literally become wearable art.
In the same way that the breast is the bodily symbol for the feminine, the dress is its material signifier. It is these two symbols – the breast and the dress – that Gounden combines to create a series of garments that tell of the anxiety, anguish and fear of waiting, followed by stories of pain and loss, and finally emblems of hope, recovery, strength and survival.
In the sector of fashion, this is often where the narrative would end, but Gounden increases the agency of her work by collaborating with Reach for Recovery. This organisation provides the stimulus for Gounden’s work and, in return, Gounden’s work provides the means by which Reach for Recovery increases its efficacy, to render real and significant support to women who experience the trauma of breast cancer.
The advocacy of the project is taken even further when the wearers of the garments become involved, providing not only material support for survivors of breast cancer,
but also by becoming advocates to raise awareness, and thereby increase the chances of early detection and effective treatment. This provides a full circle for Gounden’s use of the tools of collaboration to champion for real and significant change.
The designer has dedicated 2016 in celebration of the launch of A Stitch in Time. Part l was presented as her Spring Summer 2016 Collection. Part II was unveiled during London Fashion Week in September 2016 and is brought to South Africa in November 2016 to the Diamond Walk, Sandton City. Here, a curated exhibition, will demonstrate the continuation of her intriguingly complex and strikingly layered journey.
“Is Art or Fashion really anything if it has no purpose”
Vanessa Gounden has it flagship store on Conduit Street in MayFair, London and is sold exclusively in South Africa at DORE (Sandton City, Mall of Africa and Claremont).