ATELIER EB AND MARC CAMILLE CHAIMOWICZ
Atelier EB (Beca Lipscombe and Lucy McKenzie) approached the renowned artist Marc Camille Chaimowicz to collaborate with them to produce three woven travel blankets as souvenirs for the Commonwealth and Olympic Games. The purpose of a souvenir is to evoke a memorable, cherished place or event for those who experienced it. But as merchandise its function is also to create revenue. That an occasion can be relived or honoured through a memento which is not embellished with corporate logos is clear, but is it still a souvenir proper? Absolutely.
The travel blankets are keepsakes which conjure the delight of attending the Commonwealth and Olympic Games, and do so without being beholden to either a prescribed visual identity or the general notion of a souvenir. Mass events are historical events, marking generational shifts, but they are also simply outings shared by friends and family, as one remembers the Glasgow Garden Festival of 1988 (where Atelier EB first encountered Chaimowicz’s work) and Glasgow’s Year of Culture in 1990. It is the subjective encapsulation of experience they wish subtly to convey.
The lambswool and cashmere mix blankets, produced by master weavers Alex Begg and Co., are finely finished and transportable with a leather strap holder, fabricated by McRostie of Glasgow. They are intended for many uses at the Games, for instance, picnicking, attending outdoor events or for tired children returning home. Their design takes into account all these potential uses yet are true to the artistic vision of their creators: to create a dialogue between the fine and applied arts and life. Lipscombe’s monochrome design is a pastiche of classical perfume packaging, chic merchandise for something else completely. McKenzie has created a trompe l’oeil turkey rug complete with house cat, as if sleeping by an open hearth. Chaimowicz extends his study of Flaubert’s Madame Bovary with a bucolic palette and celebration of nineteenth and twenty-first century leisure time. Together, the three blankets present a playful array of graphic reference, the practical use of which will enrich the aesthetic and actual experience of the sporting events.
How does your work for Scotland Can Make It! relate to the notion of 'the souvenir'?
We think of the souvenir as mass produced kitsch. However it was Atelier E.B’s wish to produce a keepsake that had longevity through function and craftsmanship. The blankets can be purchased and transported home by the traveller. The blanket if used for its function will become a symbol of past experience again and again.
Does your souvenir create associations to a particular time, place or memory?
The idea behind creating a selection of blankets was to allow the customer to experience times and places with the blanket in toe, thus creating long-standing memories.
How does Scotland or Glasgow manifest itself in your souvenir?
Scotland is world famous for the production of high quality cashmere and lambswool goods. The fibre of each blanket and the high quality finish projects this connection.
How important is it that your idea is developed and manufactured in Scotland?
It is very important to Atelier E.B. to develop and manufacture in Scotland as we were born in Scotland and one half of Atelier E.B. chooses to live and work here. It is important for Atelier E.B. to produce in countries that understand quality craftsmanship and workers have rights and are respected.
What is the cultural value of working closely with industry partner based in Scotland?
Atelier E.B. believes that without industry a designer is redundant. We work closely with the high quality textile industry that is left in Scotland. Through extensive research we have noted what ceases to exist in Scotland's textiles industry. Atelier E.B. is interested in utilising what is on our doorstep today.
In what way do you feel Scotland Can Make It! challenges or sits alongside the traditional idea of mass produced, low cost merchandise usually available to commemorate such large-scale events as Glasgow 2014?
The consumer should have a choice between high-end and low-end merchandise, both should be available at large scale events. It is important to Atelier E.B. however to produce merchandise that supports and understands local industry, where the price tag reflects the skill and labour that has gone into it and highlights to the customer that no corners have been cut in the process.