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All Walks Beyond the Catwalk


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Mal Burkinshaw, Silhouette en Dentelle' - Series 1, 2013-14.


Mal Burkinshaw's series of jackets responds to the body shapes and garments on view in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery's Reformation to Revolution Gallery.  Sources of inspiration include the portraits of Margaret Graham, Lady Napier; Mary, Queen of Scots, James VI and I as a boy, Lady Arabella Stuart and Lady Agnes Douglas. His work fuses the modern classic jacket with renaissance fashion, creating a dialogue between past and present notions of 'normalised' body shapes through a metamorphosis of silhouette and scale. The jackets do not conform to standard UK size measurements and are non-gender specific, inviting us to question our perceptions of beauty relating to body size.


The series has developed from a close collaboration with renowned lace producer Sophie Hallette. It highlights the centuries of highly skilled activity involved in making this delicate material, which was a signifier of wealth, status and hierarchy during the Renaissance. The jackets reinstate the wearing of black lace during the period; although favoured, it is rarely seen in portaiture of the time. They are the result of over 800 hours of embellishment. Mal used a large light box, collaging intricately cut motifs of lace, which were then appliqued by hand onto 'high performance' netting. The process of creating each piece was both reactive and instinctive; in a sense, each jacket has been 'painted with lace'.


Mal-Jacket - Esther Inglis Mal James jacket

Mal Burkinshaw, Silhouettes en Dentelle - Series 1. 2013-14. Sophie Hallette lace, hand-appliquéd onto tailored jackets in nylon netting. Collection of the artist, Edinburgh.

Photo: Stuart Munro. Images (c) Mal Burkinshaw.