You have just released your latest collection of bespoke handmade accessories and entitled it Nigredo E’poche, a modern take on ‘La Belle Epoche’. Talk us through the inspiration for these pieces and the way in which it has evolved since Mercurial Automatism.
I wanted to combine concepts that I felt intertwined but only existed previously as separate ideas. ‘Nigredo,’ or blackening, in layman’s terms is the first stage of self-awakening. ‘E’poche’ combines both the French term ‘Époque’ (meaning ‘era’) and the ancient Greek term ‘Epoché’, a philosophical notion that challenges one to suspend judgement of commonly held beliefs through conscious detachment. I used the bells to metaphorically ‘mark’ one’s movements through vibratory frequencies. Through their resonance, the bells symbolise a temporal map of the self as it descends into Nigredo. The juxtaposition of leather and more delicate hand embroidery represents the awakening or a light after the darkness. Every collection is based on an individual narrative and most of the work is a direct tangible representation of that concept. Saying this, I feel that each collection has fed off the previous one. Mercurial Automatism (another play on word) means one who is prone to sudden erratic change and automatic or un-conscious behaviour. I used this as a means of creating similarly to the Surrealism work ethic, which justified my switch to an entirely fabric collection last season.
The collection this season features collaboration with the London based designer Michael Antrobus; what did he bring to the collection that wouldn’t have been there without him?
Micheal has a minimalist approach, which I believe worked to enhance the collection rather than overpower it. I was sourcing bells for a few months and they were all too reminiscent of jingle bells. The collection really needed something bespoke and specialised. I was afraid buying something in would cheapen the concept artistically. The end product is a perfectly functioning bell with a great sound in Michael’s signature simplistic style. There is no pretencion in his work, it’s just raw and I find a lot of beauty in that.
Are collaborations something that you will be aiming to do more of in the future and if there was anyone that you could marry your ideas with (musician/artist/designer etc) who would it be and why?
It’s a very new and frightening idea for me, learning to let people in to my creative vision on a collaborative level. I am used to working completely alone as a sort of meditation, and I like it that way, but I think it’s time to let people in. I am open to the idea of commission based work now because I feel it will allow me to get out of my head and work to someone else’s brief. I wouldn’t have a clue who, as I purposely try to stay out of celebrity culture. As long as it is someone with their own creative vision and not a media puppet I am open to being approached. I’ve been known for saying no to some celebrities in the past to a hindering degree.
You have a very strong creative voice that permeates all of your collections, a voice that certainly evokes the sense of atmosphere and a narrative waiting to be told. Is the narrative thread something that comes before the collection is made or does it develop organically as the pieces start taking shape?
It’s a ‘chicken or the egg’ situation. I feel it all happens at the same time. My mind works with triggers. One vision of a potential piece sparks a string of thoughts of possibilities and vice versa.
Your pieces often have a strength to them on first glance that are then counterbalanced by a delicate intricacy found upon closer inspection, one of many dichotomies within your work. How does duality influence you?
I have the unfortunate disadvantage of being one of those people who sees not only both sides to everything but can empathise as well. It’s like being completely split down the middle in all aspects and this of course translates into my work very obviously.
Your collections stands alone as pieces of art, something that has been reflected through their placement in museums such as the V&A and MoBA. Therefore it can be said that they aren’t perhaps the most ready-to-wear accessories for the everyday person. Who then, is the ‘Gabriella Marina Gonzalez’ woman?
My work has crossed wires between the fashion and art world because an individual piece can stand alone. I think the pieces are no more or less functional than a lot of fashion. Woman, Man, both or neither, I don’t discriminate against anyone who appreciates the work as craft, art or fashion. If it provokes any sort of feeling in them then I would say they are the right person.
Your background is multi-cultural to say the least (GMG has a Cuban father, Italian mother, and lived in Miami before moving to London). How have these different elements of your upbringing influenced you creatively?
Well yes, if it didn’t all sound manic, as it is then there is the cultural and family influence. It’s hard being all of those things at once and the expectations that are had of you or that you believe are. My family, on top of being multicultural and creative in there own right are also all insane. I blame them for most of my creativity. My father is a designer, pattern cutter and fine artist who dabbles in performance and installation. My mother does hair and makeup freelance, is equally artistically creative and sings in a band on the side. My uncle is an epic jewellery designer who can manipulate precious metal into pretty much anything aside from being a fantastic visual artist and my brother is on his way to becoming quite the artist himself, Ha, you think I’m dark? We are all broke and all confused and bonded in this family curse, which is an ideal about the way art should be. Saying this I love them all very much.
Do you consider yourself to be a Londoner now or is your heart still in America? (Whichever one you answer could you explain why that place is particularly influential to you…)
I do feel like a Londoner but I also feel like I belong everywhere and nowhere. A sort of cultural vagabond. For me Miami is a place that cures and London can be a place that harm, speaking of energy anyways. I need to live between the two to achieve a balance.
Model – Billie Turnbull – Select Models
Music plays a big part in your life, especially punk. Does this heavily influence the collections and if so, what can we listen to understand what Nigredo E’poche is imbued with?
I do love Punk music, in theory. I love how aggressive and straight to the point it can be, but that is only one form of self-expression within that genre. It’s also a very broad loosely knit word with a lot of stigma attached to it. I try to ignore stereotypes because I think they hinder clear judgement and your ability to be accepting of everything. I find strength in a lot of different types of music, to many to list. This season I was listening to a lot of the stuff on my Tumblr playlist.
Finally, what does the future hold for GMG?
I’m not sure the future is a real thing. I think it may be a fear tactic so that everyone lives with impending doom in there hearts and races toward fulfilment un naturally. We are all here in this moment now, and now I have a craving to make garments. I enjoy taking advantage of the fact that I haven’t limited myself to a specific discipline so I’m playing with the idea of a full on knitwear range. It will continue to be individually handmade, and available from the newly launched online store.
Words and Interview by Issy Croker
Photos by Olivia Richardson
Model: Billie Turnbull @ Select
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