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  • Alessia Stokes

Colouring a little further outside the lines...


"Creativity involves breaking out of the established patterns on order to look at things in a different way." So stated the father of the concept of "lateral thinking," Edward de Bono. While it is undeniable that all artists are indeed creative, there are some out there that seem to "colour" a little further outside of the lines.


Lego, is something that has enriched the lives of many children, so much so that some "old children" are still building pirate ships and the like. However, one artist is taking the creative possibility to another level. "Andre Veloux's artworks explore gender, women’s rights and consent issues using the medium of Lego bricks." (www.veloux.com)


While his medium might be whimsical and nostalgic, his message is much weightier. The focus of his work "is a feminist, gender equality and women's rights project, which explores the way women are viewed and society's expectations of them." What he achieves with Lego, is quite remarkable. There are 51 official Lego colours, and only 33 of them are solid colours, the others are "specialty bricks". He does not use custom pieces, thereby limiting his colours even more. His aim is to be as true to a person's own colour balance as possible by choosing Legos that compliment their skin tone. He starts out with a image of the person in Photoshop and plays with the saturation and contrast - the higher the contrast, the greater the pixelation. He then uses a computer program to turn the image into pixels. The process of creating the image in Lego starts with base plates and mapping out the general image. It may take a few months to complete an image, as he often has to order more Lego pieces as he needs them. Rather than just a flat image, he makes texture by layering bricks, thus creating a 3D image. There is some trial and error of placement before the image starts to appear. When the final image comes together, he has captured the essence of the individual in a truly unique way.


From one plastic material to another - tulle. "Benjamin Shine is a multidisciplinary artist most known for his pioneering work in tulle, which centres on ideas of energy, impermanence and the relationship between the spiritual and the superficial." (www.benjaminshine.com)


Tulle, often relegated to under-skirting, little girl's play tutus or when afforded some dignity - reserved for ballet performances, has now found a new place, the art gallery. These breath-taking portraits are made with nothing but tulle and a cheap iron, "the cheaper the better" (B.Shine) He has been perfecting his technique for about 10 years. While at fashion college, he ignited the concept of portraits with tulle. "It has to look like smoke", sums up the feeling of fluidity he aims for, "it mustn't look like fabric." Getting it "right", detailed and accurate, can take as much as 100 hours of pinching, pressing and folding of the tulle. The vibrancy of the colours helps him express an energy in the work. Tulle allows for a gorgeous array of tonal variation. He is able to "shade" with the fabric, as one would normally do with a pencil. His work has now been taken a step further. By collaborating with a textile designer, he has a created a tulle- like mesh from recycled plastic, high-density polyethylene (HDPE); this has enabled him to take artworks outside as "sculptures".


His series "Human Kind" - he "honours the heroic healthcare workers from around the world, whose strength and courage to care for others in the face of such vulnerability, is truly remarkable. In these works, the idea of a strength forged from fragility is expressed literally and metaphorically via the process of manipulating the delicate material into form." He goes on further to say, "collectively, I hope this series will represent a global ‘portrait’ of humanity’s greatest qualities, especially those of strength, courage and kindness, as demonstrated by these inspiring individuals."


It appears that as long as creativity exists, and artists continue to be inspired by the people and world around them, "colouring a little further outside the lines" will maintain it's momentum. A momentum that perhaps nudges the rest of us to look at things differently and explore the possibilities. I am excited for a world of creative minds that know no bounds.


Watch:

  • Andre Veloux, Creating Portraits Using Thousands of Lego Bricks-https://youtu.be/1jLFvU62mxI

  • Benjamin Shine Artist Irons Face Portraits out of Fabric - https://youtu.be/RevJk31-7iU


Picture Credits:

  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 2017 -Andre Veloux

  2. Michelle Obama, 2017 - Andre Veloux

  3. Angel Rivera, nurse at St Joseph Hospital, New Jersey, USA - Benjamin Shine

  4. Shaan Sahota, junior doctor in London, who was redeployed from the surgery department to the Intensive Care Unit to support Covid-19 patients. - Benjamin Shine

  5. Quietude - Benjamin Shine



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