Creatures and Creations (Waddesdon Manor,2017) is an exhibition showing at Waddesdon Manor which is the home of the Rothchilds in England. It showcases work by two creatives that is based on insects, birds and animals that are linked in that their scientific name shares the Latin version of Rothschild – Rothschildi. Many of the Rothschild family have had a keen interest in the natural world, and one in particular, Walter, 2nd Lord Rothschild was a famed naturalist who collected insects from childhood and later developed a natural history museum at Tring, near Waddesdon Manor. His fame led to many newly discovered specimens being named after him. The present exhibition shows work by Platon H and Mary Katrantzou.
Platon H (born Platon Alexis Hadjimichalis) is an artist and a civil servant. He started with drawing and painting, moved through making heavily textured creations on to digital art. The art works shown at Waddesdon are abstract digital colleges inspired by the feather and wings from the insects and birds in the Rothschild collection. In an interview, he says ‘No artist has just a single source of inspiration. Moreover, nature is not always the basis of my work. My compositions are the result of many factors. Nature lies at the root of my inspiration, but the resulting composition is the product of different inspirations, closely tied to my history and upbringing. I see forms in nature that enable me to combine them with abstract art. I do this inspired by different artists and art movements from the 1960s and 1970s ……. I have not considered this, nor do I want to break away from the subtle geometry, as you put it. My eyes and my aesthetics as a child had a rough time being immersed in architecture and archaeology… The geometry found in nature, ultimately, highlights my work. Of special interest in this respect is the fractal theory of nature. Without intending to, I construct my pieces using fractal features.’ (Liapi, 2017).
Images used with kind permission of Platon H.
Mary Katrantzou is a fashion designer who has worked with textiles to produce highly coloured fantastic pieces of clothing, which have brought her fame in the fashion world. In Vogue, …. says about her work ‘a great print designer, and a Greek one, at that—which is good’ and quotes Katrantzou saying ‘she was also triggered by the words of a girlfriend who happened to remark, “Your work is so psychedelic!” She’d not seen her many-layered digital compositions that way before, but it led her to search out the trippy graphics of late-’60s and early-’70s music posters’. (Mower, 2016). Here she showcases three couture dresses and the images she has based them on, all of which are inspired by the insects from the Rothschild collection.
Images used with kind permission of Mary Katrantzou
The exhibition is full of colour, set off against the original specimens collected by Rothchild on loan from the Tring Natural History Museum. It is fascinating to see how the same starting point can lead two artists in completely different ways, one towards a highly regimented fractal designs and the other to freely flowing and exotic prints made into stunning pieces of artwork that masquerade as dresses. Both are highly detailed, in the exhibition the prints are shown at a similar size, which emphasises the contrast between the two bodies of work. Both resonate for me, the patterns of Platon H are soothing and repetitive, almost mesmerizing to look at for any length of time while the stunning vibrancy of Katrantzou’s work has the opposite effect.
Liapi, Z. (2017). Interview by Zinovia-Christina Liapi – Texts – Hadjimichalis, Official website – SOCOS –. [online] Platon-socos.com. Available at: http://www.platon-socos.com/texts/interview-by-zinoviachristina-liapi/ [Accessed 30 Aug. 2017].
Mower, S. (2016). Mary Katrantzou Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Fashion Show. [online] Vogue. Available at: http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2017-ready-to-wear/mary-katrantzou [Accessed 31 Aug. 2017].
Waddesdon Manor. (2017). Creatures & Creations – Waddesdon Manor. [online] Available at: https://waddesdon.org.uk/whats-on/creatures-and-creations-platon-katrantzou-exhibition/ [Accessed 1 Sep. 2017].