Creative Spirits Collaborate for STYLEAID


Performance artists Strykermyer and Ash Baroque don’t want to give away too much about their performance at STYLEAID tonight.

When we caught up with creative collaborators recently it was clear that the opportunity to combine their performance with fashion from 33 Poets, photography from David Collins and music from Abbe May was a five way match made in heaven.

“We have an opportunity through Rebecca Patterson from 33 Poets just to be ourselves, our normal selves, which is just fantastic.”Strykermeyer said.

Strykermeyer said STYLEAID was an event he had a personal connection with; “STYLEAID for me personally has a huge impact because I’ve been HIV longer than I have not in my lifetime. So for the AIDS thing, it’s a huge beautiful natural boost for me personally and as far as the WA AIDS Council goes, I adore them. They’ve helped me out in all kinds of circumstances and in all kinds of ways.”

The annual fundraising event for the WA AIDS Council has grown over many years to be not just a major fundraiser for the WA AIDS Council but also an important event for Western Australia’s fashion industry, especially early career designers who often get to expose their work to a wider audience.

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This year the fundraising event has secured its largest ever single donation by teaming up with its naming rights sponsor Curtin University. The 2014 event follows the theme of ‘Mythic’

“We get to show these really beautiful, really beautiful clothes – they are gorgeous. Rebecca Patterson is incredible.” Strykermeyer said, “But inside all that let’s talk about HIV, let’s keep it out there, let’s wear these lavish dresses. But most importantly let’s be ourselves.”

Ash Baroque first met Patterson working in the fashion realm and both admired the others work.

“It was like kindred spirits meeting.” Baroque said, “We’ve very different people in terms of our artist and spiritual worlds but in her ritual of making clothes and her process, the fabric she uses and the organic beauty and balance of simplicity and detail in her work.”

There was a definite connection between the ways Patterson designs clothes and how Ash Baroque and Strykermeyer approach performance.

“You could uses words like pagan or ‘older times’” Baroque said to describe the similarity between the artistic approach of the designer and the performers. Strykermeyer sees a similarity in that both are very organic and environmentally focussed.

After Baroque met Patterson he said he couldn’t wait to introduce her to Strykermeyer because they spoke of such similar values in their creative processes. When the trio met up they discovered another similar connection in their mutual love of a punk ethos.

“Rebecca used to own this shop called Neurotics, a million years ago in Forrest Chase, it is still the only punk shop that has ever been in this state. It was so punk, there was no colour in that shop, and it had loads of heavy duty posers out the front and it was a little bit terrifying to go in there.’ Strykermeyer said.

“Rebecca was so ahead of her time, in was back in those days when everything in Perth was ten years behind Britain and Europe, whether it was fashion or music that used to happen.”

Ash Baroque argues that Patterson’s current methodology of working with natural dyes and silks still maintains a very punk approach to fashion.

“It’s probably the most contemporary punk thing to be doing right now.” Baroque said, “It’s a return away from the digital age and there is this beautiful organic connection we all have creatively.”

“This is the effect of collaboration,” proclaims Strykermeyer, “Hot fashion, lavish and beautiful dresses, they are so gorgeous – a return to nature and then Ash and I are doing our little thing. We like things to look old, we like the old ways.”

Another collaboration has been with photographer David Collins who captured the performance artists modelling the clothes that Patterson designed. Unlike many fashion photographs that often appear lifeless, Collins images of the pair are filled with movement and energy.

“David Collins is so fresh and exciting to work with, he knows his shit and he’s extremely comfortable working with us. Photographers have to get into some odd positions to ‘get the shot’ and he has no fear. He’s a fantastic photographer who captures a story within the image.”

Ash Baroque describes Collins as a ‘master of light’, “he understands the nature of light, and how it responds to movement. That creates a sense of freedom in his work.”

Stryermeyer shares that the way the way both he and Ash Baroque keep their work fresh and exciting is to run away from anything that is constant.

“When you have a collaboration with almost anybody, as long as they get the soul of your work, to mix with the soul of their work, there is nothing that can go wrong. It has to be organic and there has to one little trigger of happenstance, there is always something that is completely unplanned.”

Ash Baroque said one of the great parallels between the artists is that permission to just be yourself’. Baroque said that anybody who wears the 33 Poets label is buying in to that concept.

“It’s not about putting on any extra shine, it’s about being a gypsy, the freedom of the spirit and the movement of the fabric. It’s all about freedom.” Baroque said, “There needs to be more of that in the universe.”

“And in the gay scene,” added Stykermeyer wryly.

We discuss the disconnection between older members of the LGBT community and the younger generation. Strykermeyer worries about a generation who are unaware of the past, especially when it comes to HIV and AIDS, but also knowledge of a community’s history and culture.

I share a story that I recently met a young man who posts photos to social media, but if not enough people ‘like’ the image he deletes it for not being worthy of posterity. I suggest it’s a backwards world where you value your interaction based on how popular each interaction is on social media.

“Being famous doesn’t make you interesting, being Interesting doesn’t necessarily make you famous either.” Strykermeyer offers.

While many would argue that Strykermeyer is an acclaimed, and indeed famous, performer. It is clear that the driving forces behind the creativity of these performance artists, a photographer, a designer and musician Abbe May, (who will add another layer of collaboration to their performance tonight), is a journey of discovery relating to their work and themes, rather than an egotistical moment in the spotlight.

Graeme Watson

Image: Strykermeyer and Ash Baroque wear 33 Poets photographed by David Collins.





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