It Takes Time To Dress A Woman

Norm Gibbons

The creative process is mysterious. The artist, Denise Gibbons, was attracted to clothing labels not knowing where the infatuation would lead. Similarly, when she acquired the mid-century-modern mannequin from Joan Bevington, Denise put the “dolly” in a corner of her studio, where it patiently awaited metamorphosis. One may wonder, at some point, did a psychic transmission occur, did she intuit that the model be dressed in labels, when thinking of her as canvas rather than form?

P1080116The evolution from bare to branded acquired style, the “haute couture” look, a time-consuming and hand-executed technique of high dressmaking. Too risky might have seemed the chaotic, tarred-and-feathered look, or a Pollock-like abstraction, though these concepts were intriguing. Perhaps, the illiquidity of labels as opposed to paint prevented the artist from “using the accident,” as Jackson once commented.

The artist selected a suitable glue: brand “Yes” became the choice, a water-soluble paste, which allowed for removal and placement elsewhere. She graded labels by colour, shape, texture and size. The abstract tapestries on the reverse side required scrutiny as these miniatures often had the quality of inadvertent works of art. She resolved whether or not to cover the canvas “head-to-toe,” or leave some patches bare, and if so, which anatomical features to expose and arouse the eye.

P1080160Where to start eventually became the concern: an arm, leg, back, abdomen, breast or buttock. Numerous trials and errors, weeks of shifting archipelagos of colour swaths, always keeping in mind the whole versus the particular, watching the “itness” fade, the persona emerge, ignoring the pressure to bequeath a name, and what of charisma and magnetism, was there a message in this medium: these experiments and questions resolved into the routine of a lengthy work process.

Finally the world sees a finely dressed woman.


Higher Quality Images by Richard Trueman. View Slideshow by clicking on any image below.