JOHN ALEXANDER SKELTON II
For his first solo excursion following his MA collection at Central Saint Martins Skelton’s collection takes its influence from Cottonopolis - the cotton towns of Lancashire that thrived throughout the 19th to Early 20th century and explores their tumultuous connections with the eastern world, in particular India. Britain’s relationship with India is dissected and examined on a plethora of levels from Gandhi’s Swadeshi movementand visits to Lancashire, to India before the great Mutiny of 1857 and to the brutality that followed with the British Raj, translating the links into a present day multiculturalism and cross pollination of the two cultures.
As a complex subject to come to terms with Skelton finds himself both appalled and fascinated by the pomp of the Raj in restrictive Victorian India and takes particular inspiration from the symbiosis and hybridity of cultures as taken on by early British traders. The socio-political avenues intertwining class and hierarchy spanning country and time offer unique links such as the Lancastrian mill workers solidarity with Ghandhi’s movement and the Artisans of India.
The Swadeshi movement holds many similarities to the sustainable ideals of Skelton’s work. At its heart wasthe localisation of Indian cotton production stopping exports to Britain of its raw material in order to create a self sufficient industry. The movement being opposed to mass production sought to keep the traditional modes of handcraft with only cloths that had been hand spun and hand-woven permitted to carry the khadibadge.
Photography Ryan Neil Skelton
Hair Takao Hiyashi
Hats in Collaboration with Stephen Jones