2012 Betta Milk Open Award $2500

Douglas McManus
synthetique of bone and matter, blossfeldt and McQueen

synthetique of bone and matter, blossfeldt and McQueen Photo:  Garry Conroy-Cooper

synthetique of bone and matter, blossfeldt and McQueen
Photo:  Garry Conroy-Cooper

About the piece
As the title of the piece suggests, Douglas has drawn on a variety of sources as inspiration for his winning work.  It consists of two garments, a dress with a bolero jacket for a female, and a tailcoat with tails for a male.  Inspiration from the natural world is evident in the leaf-like motif of the laser-cut patterns which are a key component of both garments. “I love organic forms and am really trying to get these across through my work. The dress especially looks like autumn falling leaves”, says Douglas (The Advocate, 12th May 2013).  Two of his favourite artists are also referenced in the work, providing insight into the themes of ‘…concealment and camouflage, juxtaposed against exposure and scrutiny.’ (From Artist’s Statement submitted with entry).  Karl Blossfeldt was a photographer whose work focussed on the intricate detail of plants and seeds. Very little was known about Blossfeldt’s personal life. This contrasts with the world of fashion designer Alexander McQueen, whose life and death were scrutinised in the contemporary celebrity era.  The work also draws on the aesthetics of steam punk, gothic and ‘motorcycle outlaw’

The design techniques used to create the garments include laser cutting, engraving and metallic printing of leaves.  Douglas estimates he has spent over 300 hours on the work, which included painstakingly cutting out 500 leaves, which were then spray-painted onto the dress.

Materials: laser cut and engraved rice paper, screen printed foil on rice paper

Photo: Douglas McManus

Photo: Douglas McManus

About the artist
Douglas McManus is a Melbourne based artist who explores emerging high end technologies to create large scale sculptural art works. Originally studying fine art printmaking, he began to include textiles as a medium early in his career. McManus has emerged as a major contributor to the culture of textiles in Australia through his work as a practitioner, curator, researcher, and educator.

Key processes in his award winning work include laser engraving, 3D printing and sound activated lighting. The opportunity to create a partnership with Trotec Laser to have access to a laser cutter in his studio has allowed him to further experiment and push the boundaries of laser technology and textiles.

He has exhibited in significant exhibitions such as Melbourne Now at the NGV, and MONA Dark Mofo Festival. McManus is represented in major Australian museums including The Powerhouse, Sydney, The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and The Queen Victoria Museum, Launceston.

Douglas has recently returned from an artist in residence program at Trotec International headquarters in Austria where he produced two large installation based works for the company's collection.