Wear your art on your tee (and your cushion and umbrella)


Wear your art on your tee (and your cushion and umbrella)

Blurring the line between fashion and art

Lwandile Bhengu

When Victoria Verbaan had enough of two-dimensional artwork, she took a leap of faith into the world of wearable art. That was nine years ago, and since then the Durban-based artist has been successfully tackling a medium where fashion and art mesh.Fashion fundis recognise that what sets wearable art apart is that it is able to exist in two worlds and be equally at home on a fashion runway and an art museum.Verbaan’s paintings of provocative and quirky women on T-shirts, silk scarves, umbrellas and decor items have reached European shores and are available online locally. She has built strong relationships with retailers in Berlin.“I would like the American and Asian markets to be exposed to the brand and I’d also like to work with international pop-up shops. I’d be very keen to get involved with some collaborations there,” she said.In 2009 Verbaan decided that she wanted to play with another platform to expose her works, and she knew  that wearable art was the way to go. “I wanted to create something that was playful and beautiful, that would also serve as a platform for my art outside of two-dimensional paintings and illustrations,” she said.The free-spirited artist is not concerned about following conventional artistic or design methods, painting some of her designs upside down. “I don’t like to labour over my work too much; I like to be spontaneous. There’s no overthinking or anything like that,” she said.Verbaan describes her work as “hopeful, raw and fantastical”, adding that her paintings allow her to challenge herself.
The origins of wearable art are debatable, with some arguing that it started in the 1960s in the US and was a reaction to the rise of rock ’n’ roll and the growing call to end the social injustices faced by African-Americans. Others claim it started much earlier in the 1920s and 1930s with artistic jewellery designs.
Verbaan is not one to follow trends. “I draw my inspiration from everything, from everyone; it could be a face, it could be a conversation, it could be lyrics of a song, it could be anything.”Verbaan will be showing her work at Discover Durban Design at the ECR House & Garden Show from June 29 to July 8.

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