Collage & textile: the work of Vicki Cody

Please, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you.

Hi I’m Vicki, I’m from Ireland, and I’ve just recently finished my Masters in Crafts where I specialised in Textiles at HDK School of Craft and Design, Sweden. I also have a BA in Printmaking, from Limerick school of art and design, Ireland. Right now I’m focusing on getting myself a studio, and hoping to get away for 2 or 3 months to do a residency. I got into collage during my time at the print department where I studied my BA, the print department was quite flexible and I wouldn’t say discovered but it was here that I really began to develop my collage process. I think it kind of happened when I started making silhouette cut outs on the back of screen prints that hadn’t worked out, and then it later developed into me constructing more intricate pieces, I made a series of hybrid bird like creatures for my degree show.

Can you tell us about this particular series?

This work was entitled ‘Twisted Biota‘, it’s stems from my fascination with the natural world and our inherent connection to it. Themes and big sources of inspiration are Natural history, Victorian imagery and tales/stories with anthropomorphic themes. Melding together traditional paper collage techniques with distortion bringing the beautiful and ugly together. The final pieces consisted of textile panels, which had the finished collaged images digitally printed onto them. The images were made up of various birds, beasts, flora and fauna. It was really important from the start that the paper and textiles were shown together, I wanted the viewer to get an insight into my working process on paper, to expose the way I make things.

Which is the value of the materiality in your work? Why working in textile and not paper?

I wouldn’t say I’m not working in paper, I still am, my work always starts with sourcing images and making a collage, this is then photocopied, scaled up or distorted using the photocopier, when I feel it’s ready its then digitally printed onto fabric. But the move into textiles was I guess due to growing a little bored and feeling a bit limited working with just paper, whether through collage or print. I started to get really excited thinking about applying my collaged images onto fabric. The quality of fabric is so different to paper, I wanted to give my work a more finished look and it also gave me the opportunity to work on a much bigger scale. I’ve used a lot of viscous silk, it’s an imitation silk, its thick and has a richness to it which really worked with the colours I used. But you know, now that I’ve digitally printed a lot onto fabric I really want to focus on screen printing again and combining screen printed imagery with found imagery, and focusing more with just working with paper, scaling it up and getting the opportunity to taking over an entire space, I like the idea of a piece of work growing or manifesting itself and taking over. I got to experiment with scale a little bit during my masters, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to fully realise and it’s something I want to explore more.

What´s your definition of collage?

Not mine but I came across this quote in a book on Fred Tomaselli’s work ‘Collage the art of reassembling fragments of pre-existing images in such a way as to form a new image was the most important innovation in art of the twentieth century’.

What´s the future of collage?

It’s an exciting one but I do find that a lot of collage artists, who just work primarily with cut up images from old magazines their work ends up looking the same, technically it might be good, but it’s kind of hard to tell one from the other. I tend to look at artists who use collage techniques but take it a step further whether through large scale installation, combining with other materials, film or pasted onto a street wall. Artists I look at a lot are Wangechi Mutu, Laura Prouvoust, Sally Smart, Alex Rose and just recently Judith Supine, for me these artists are making collage really exciting, I went to an exhibition of Wangechi Mutu’s a couple of years back and it just blew my mind, anyone with an interest in collage really must try and see her work at some point. Also Czech film makers such as Jan Svankmajer and Vera Chytilova have been using collage techniques in making their films since the 60’s, so yeah collage is definitely very exciting at the moment, but I think it always has been.