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UAL to host Tom Cardwell: Bad Patch

Painter, lecturer and researcher, Tom Cardwell, is to present his PhD exhibition at Wimbledon College of Arts

Bad Patch, an exhibition curated by UAL’s Tom Cardwell, will showcase a series of paintings which depict the customised ‘battle jackets’, largely identifiable with heavy metal subcultures. The Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Graduate School and Wimbledon College of Arts are set to present the exhibition at the Wimbledon Space. Opening its door on March 23 2017, 5-8pm, the general public are invited to the opening event of the exhibition.

“Like many people growing up in the 1980s I was a metal fan myself, and used to make my own jackets back then”, Cardwell says. “I was interested to see that the practice of making battle jackets has had a kind of resurgence since the early 2000s and is now being taken up by an increasingly diverse range of fans.”

In his examination of the Battle Jacket as a multifaceted symbol, Cardwell explores its subcultural development as a marker of identity amongst heavy metals fans. Within his PhD research thesis – Still life and death metal: painting the battle jacket – he examines the subcultural meaning of the Battle Jacket for those who create them, as well as the garment’s importance to wider culture. Whilst band logos are considered contemporary, Cardwell locates them with past eras within his research.

“As an artist I explore objects with cultural significance and I am interested in symbols in contemporary culture, how they are open to many different levels of meaning.” Cardwell adds, “Battle jackets are full of images and symbols connected to contemporary heavy metal culture, but many of them have roots in much older image traditions.”

The exhibition will showcase two bodies of work, produced by Cardwell in his practice based PhD project. Touching upon 17th century Dutch still life painting, a series of watercolour paintings which portray a selection of jackets created by fans will be featured. The images will highlight and illustrate the distinct design detailing typically embellished, studded and patched onto battle jackets.

“As a painter I have always been influenced by Dutch still life painting. I love the detail of those works and the way that they elevate everyday objects to make them the focus of our attention.” Cardwell believes, “These things become players in mysterious narratives which could only exist in paintings. In this sense painting is a great way to examine battle jackets – to consider what wonderful and strange things they are.”

A selection of larger scale oil paintings will also be displayed, merging and connecting the battle jackets with other artefacts. The contrast between the objects and the painting succeed in bringing together traditions which are typically viewed as different.

“One of the aspects of my project has been to trace connections between battle jackets and other practices of customising clothing to display aspects of identity”, Cardwell says. “I have been interviewing fans over the past couple of years about their jackets, and some of these responses as well as photographs of the fans will feature in the exhibition. I’m interested in the ways in which the jackets are autobiographical, reflecting aspects of individual identity as well as wider connections to metal subculture.”

Tom is a lecturer at University of the Arts London and University for the Creative Arts. More information on Bad Patch can be found on his website.

The exhibition will run from March 23 to April 07 2017, open to the general public, Monday – Friday, 10am-5pm. For further details, visit the UAL website.

Left: Tom Cardwell, How the West (Country) Was Won, 2016, oil on canvas, 120 x 90 cms. Right: Tom Cardwell, Aidan’s Jacket (front), 2015, watercolour on paper, 38 x 26 cms.

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