This exhibition started out as wishful thinking – a dream really -- one of those idealistic ones that artists around the world have every day.
What if….what if I could manage to convince the owner of a retail business to open a shop in a gallery? What if that shop sold decorative fabrics? What if that person had the same belief I had about the experience of contemporary domestic decoration? What if the owner was prepared to expand their idea of what art is and was willing to take their customers with them? Tall order, I thought.
When I approached Decorama, two years ago, I was hardly ready for the astonishing interest and overall enthusiasm I received. It was as if Deborah Gajda and I were reading the same books, looking at the same artists, speaking with the same people. We both shared the common idea that the ‘art’ of decorating the home was under threat. We contended primarily that the purveyors of style, working with the ‘mega-home store’, a relative of the department store founded in nineteenth century France, had managed to infiltrate and universalise the world of decoration – so much so, that interiors look much the same world wide.
The experience of shopping and creative decision-making, is seemingly being taken over by someone or something bigger than any of us, much the same way the McDonalds’ of the world have taken over the art of home cooking. The decorative is being replaced by the featureless – for cost and convenience.
Yet for me personally, I am caught somewhere between the slick clean lines of a well ordered modernist aesthetic, and a powerful attraction to ornamentation mainly as a result of my pattern history; that trace of familiarity when your eye catches a pattern from a distant past.
Similarly, there are the two distinct types of visitor to this exhibition, each seeking a creative experience; the customer to choose a fabric for home decoration and the gallery viewer, to engage in a cultural activity. Both parties are ostensibly caught somewhere between an appreciation of art and the desire for a bargain.