This series of new paintings by Tom Cardwell takes as its subject the customised ‘battle jackets’ worn by heavy metal fans. These jackets represent a significant tradition of DIY making practice and act as a display of identity and subcultural allegiance for the fan. Although contemporary in nature, the band logos and artworks hark back to past eras in Western cultural history. Cardwell exploits these connections to re-present the jackets as crossing points for diverse layers of narrative, with a nod to the concerns of Dutch still life painting.
The exhibition features two related series of works. A series of small watercolour paintings transcribe a selection of jackets made by fans, bringing the scrutiny of the medium to bear on the collections of patches, studs and other embellishments. These become a sort of contemporary ‘kunstkammer’ painting. The group of larger oil paintings connect and conflate the battle jackets with other related artefacts; a leather biker jacket, a military banner, a priest’s chasuble. These creative juxtapositions suggest connections between ostensibly disparate traditions that are reified in objects that only exist in the space of painting.
This exhibition forms the culmination of Cardwell’s practice-based PhD project and is presented with support from the CCW Graduate School and Wimbledon College of Arts.