Review: Helen and Kate Storey’s ‘LUNG DRESS’ at The Wellcome Collection


Image:The ‘Heart Tube Hat’ design from ‘Primitive Streak’ (Photographer: Justine; model: Korinna at Models 1).

Unfortunately today is the last day that one will be able to view Helen Storey’s
latest addition to her groundbreaking Primitive Streak Collection, ‘The Lung
Dress’.

Helen, alongside her developmental biologist sister Kate, was awarded Sciart
funding
to create a fashion collection that spanned the first 1000 hours of human gestation: ultimately combining art and science. Although the concept sounds complicated the result is both pure and captivating. In the sisters’ own words they wanted to link their disparate disciplines in a way that even an eight year old would be able to understand.

The sisters have successfully approached the interesting Science/Art debate with
a physical outcome that is aesthetically spectacular. It could also be argued that
their brave pitch to the Wellcome Collection over 14 years ago was incredibly innovative for the time. This was a long time before the Royal Academy’s– Aware: Art Fashion Identity exhibition, where Helen’s loaded ‘dissolvable dress’ entitled Say Goodbye was on display. This was another piece, by the designer, that linked art, fashion and science to communicate a more profound subject matter. The ‘Dissolvable Dress’ conveyed a powerful message; it prompted the viewer to consider the fashion industry’s, and our own, role in the current and worrying ‘throwaway culture’. This was just another example of how Helen has used fashion in order to effectively address important societal, environmental and educational concerns. She uses garments – something we all use and understand – in order to explain something we may otherwise choose to ignore. For example the science used in Helen’s, RA-selected, piece helped to demonstrate the serious and measureable implications of participating in a wasteful culture, whilst its disintegrating beauty made that message compelling.


‘Say Goodbye’. Image courtesy of the Royal Academy, (c) Helen Storey

On the 28th July, at the Wellcome Collection, Helen and Kate opened what seemed
more of a friendly discussion than a debate entitled Because we’re worth it.
which addressed the question, ‘In an age of austerity we ask how best to nurture
art and science’ and it was disappointing that the sisters were not able to discuss
their pioneering work in greater depth.

I urge those who can make it down to Wellcome Collection to do so as Helen
Storey’s intriguing work is definitely worth it! She fuses aspects of scientific
fact with beautiful designs and the result is a truly magnificent and enlightening
piece of art.

Tory Turk for FAD

About Mark Westall

Mark Westall is the Founder and Editor of FAD magazine Founder and co-publisher Art of Conversation and founder of the platform @worldoffad

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