Sunday, 6 October 2013

Brent Coffin's Feathered Finery

Yvette modelling Brent Coffin's latest creation Bronze Angel

Last Sunday, Brent Coffin and I got together for a late lunch at The Rocket Bakery and a downtown gallery hopping session.  The man has a thing for feathers, no doubt about it.  Can you blame him?  Feathers represent so much.  Light as air, soft to the touch, reflect light like magic and they represent flight.  You've got it all: fashion statement, design icon and a metaphor to cap it off.  (A feather in the artist's cap?  OK, too much.)

We tend to think of feathers as something you'd wear on the back, as in wings.  But placed on the front of the gown they are an eye grabbing reversal.  It makes for one hell of a dramatic bodice.  Visually it is engaging because it is like a bird of prey swooping down…that's how we'd normally see wings at this angle.
this is from a 1990 flash art book by Seda

Wings have been on my mind lately because I see them frequently in tattoos on people's backs.  I have heard about one gay man who has spectacular angel wings and each time he has lost a loved one he has a tattoo of a single feather done on his calf.  The wings on the feet remind me of Mercury the messenger.  I am also reminded of the mutant superhero character who as a child would take a grater to his wings and painfully remove the wings that kept growing back.  It is a heart wrenching scene of a young man desperate to fit into a world that does not appreciate what makes him special.

Wings also represent freedom, the ability to fly away and escape, to soar high above life's problems.  I think that is in part of the reason why birds have appealed to artists for centuries.  And of course, they represent the divine: creatures of the sky. In classical mythology and Eastern religions they were the messengers of the gods. Today they are nature's angels.

I think of humans as angels.  Hybrid creatures that exist somewhere between good and evil, the divine and the beastial.  Hybrids are the ultimate postmodern creature or creation.  A combination of elements, the culmination of elements from the past.  Rather like DJs who sample music and sound, contemporary art and studio craft is a compilation of media from across disciplines.  I guess you could say humans are mixed media creatures.
Owls are a favourite subject of Michael Massie's and his carver's mark is V like a bird's wings.

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