As endless streams of fashion advertisements, globalized brands and chain stores attest, the enormous variety of social functions involving garments are easy to overlook. Through dress and fashion we perform many roles but among the most important are to project confidence whilst protecting insecurities, physical or otherwise. Kirsty Lillico's textile-based sculptures address this duality and also act on a deeper level, as prompters, reminding the viewer of garments additional abilities to either bottle-up or externalize our perceived individuality.
Working with an entirely white palette, Lillico's textile sculptures include utilitarian objects such as mittens, helmets and capes. Presented alongside this are garment-like objects which "have ceased to be a 'second skin' for the body, and instead have become the body itself." She describes this aspect of her work as representing both "the suppression of individuality, and its preservation. This contradiction is intended to activate curiosity in an audience regarding the social and psychological context for the garments use and manufacture."
It is appropriate given the subject of Lillico's works and their resemblance with modern fashion that the viewer of these art objects is possibly attracted to the notion of embellishing or cocooning oneself within them. As writer, Katy Corner, has observed, Lillico's sculptures are "full of potential and anticipation. They project a powerful, intelligent presence as if patiently waiting for their use to be discerned and appreciated. They also seem to be waiting for us to do something, handing over responsibility."
Kirsty Lillico is a Wellington based artist. She holds an MFA from RMIT University, Melbourne.