The spare, clinical scaffolding set created by 34-year-old British artist Graham Hudson provided the perfect backdrop to the precise, sober tailoring of Patrik Ervell’s S/S12 show and cited theme that mixed “the powers of commerce and finance with the grit and toughness of the street”. Meeting the artist after the show, Hudson marveled at having just seen his first catwalk show: “That was so brief! But it made me appreciate art’s democratic approach to how you handle what’s being presented to you.”
It may have been Hudson’s first runway experience but he’s already chalked up an impressive list of commissions, some from the world of fashion. Since graduating from the RCA in 2002, Hudson has been defining his "minimalist maximalist" aesthetic, showcasing raw, unstable and haphazard installations made out of everyday, found materials – often appearing to be on the brink of collapse. As the first artist-in-residence at the Chelsea College of Art, he spent six months building and living in a makeshift space under 24 hour CCTV surveillance – mashing up art and life into an intense experience. He followed that up with another residency at Kings Cross Central in 2009 where he responded to the regeneration of the area by turning the entire site into an ever-changing studio, creating sculptures and interventions that were at once monumental and transient, with the random element of chance and collaboration being essential to the process. He recalls: “You could build something and it would be taken down that afternoon – I liked the discipline of it. Often, with what the builders did, I thought it was more interesting because they didn’t have my hang ups about making art.”
Equally, Hudson doesn’t share the art world’s reticence about collaborating in the arena of fashion, having collaborated with Comme Des Garcons, first at Dover Street Market and then creating an installation for their Tokyo flagship. "I always thought art is big enough and ugly enough to look after itself and you should address Comme Des Garcons as you would any other curator," he states. For his Fendi commission, "An insignificant extension in space and a considerable extension in time (Prototype for a Fendi Museum, Milan), 2009," Hudson built an exoskeleton of a museum for the luxury brand, complete with sectioned rooms and display objects bearing the Fendi logo. Not a trained architect, Hudson’s work has a mesmerizing quality that arises from its imperfections. "I try not to use tape measure or a spirit level. So a non-pattern becomes a pattern. When you put the screws in, I never plan it – if every screw is off, it looks right. It becomes this beautiful thing that people respond to, maybe because everything is overly-formalised and measured perfectly that the chaos is more effective and more real."
Hudson is currently working with Ervell on creating a temporary flagship store in Tribeca as part of the BOFFO Building Fashion 2011 programme (previous designers to have taken over the space include Nicola Formichetti and Ohne Titel). Hudson is once again turning to his trademark scaffolding to create the space explaining: "Scaffolding so utilitarian – it expands like a beehive to accommodate what you put in it. I’m attracted to it because it’s not a real thing, it’s a non-object. There’s no value to it as sculpture if you can rebuild it with different stuff each different time. It moves throughout the cities as an emblem of time. It’s viral - springing up in response to buildings falling apart and people deciding to build them up again." Being a temporary space, Hudson is seeking to invert the retail experience, and in the process, challenge the consumer. "With Patrik there was this clear idea that he was interested in using bomber or parachute material in a different context – so for me it was a chance to say it does not need to look like a store, but it is the idea of a store. It’s a statement. I think I just want to be brutal as I can with this project. I want it to work for his product but it should be a challenging experience also."
The Patrik Ervell & Graham Hudson shop is open on 57 Walker Street from Oct 20-Nov 2 2011.
Kin Woo writes for Dazed & Confused, Ponystep and Androgyny magazine and is a contributing editor for Dazed Digital. He has produced films for international artists Pheonix, Patrick Wolf and Lissie Trullie.