The ideals of suburban life form the basis of photographer and artist Gemma Land’s most recent work.
July 22nd, 2011
Gemma Land creates works that explore geometry, structure and symmetry.
Bourgeois Utopias, a series of photographs that arose from Land’s research into suburban housing in London, is a haunting and eerie collection of images investigating ideas of utopia and the perfect home.
In an inspired twist, the photographs have recently been used to create a collection of scarves, launched at the London and Paris Fashion Weeks. A new collection, Strawberry Hill, is soon to be released. Indesignlive spoke to Gemma Land about her work.
In your research and photography, what has stood out to you most about suburban housing in London?
Throughout my research the initial ideals of suburban life stood out to me. I was particularly interested in the history and origins of this way of living. Not only the idea of having the perfect home, but also planned suburban areas that often had social agendas and utopian ideals.
I was struck by the different atmospheres in the suburban streets when I walking around photographing houses. One of the areas I concentrated on had large mansion-like houses; many were empty and thus felt quite eerie.
Has this affected the way you look at the city?
It has affected the way I think of cities. I’m particularly interested in the layout and structure of cities and how this relates to the way people live.
London is known as a whirlpool city, as described by D H Lawrence, whereas cities like Los Angeles are known as a sprawl development. These different types of structures result in different ways of living.
What is the significance of printing the images onto scarves? Are they ideally meant to be worn or displayed?
I initially won the Creative Archives Award, who produced my first collection. Before this I had been solely working with the photographic print.
I particularly liked the way this changed my work and gave it new qualities and uses. It also allowed me to introduce my work to different audiences.
They are intended to have a dual use, so people can choose to display them or wear them.
Does wearing them indicate a sort of possession, like owning a home?
The suburban series focuses upon the idea of perfection, so it allows people to possess the impossible… the perfect home.
What’s the story behind this new Strawberry Hill collection?
Strawberry Hill is the former home of Horace Walpole, who was a MP, art collector and one of the first gothic novelists. His home was extended and built by masons; it was one of the first Gothic revival residences and has influenced the design of residential architecture.
It was also the inspiration for Walpole’s Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto, which later inspired writers such as Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe.
I was inspired by the design of the house and its history, and have created the collection to reflect upon its Gothic history and to show the soul of the house.
Gemma Land’s scarf collections will be available to buy via her website from September.
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