Eleanor Van Riel's costume design for 'Paradise Lost' by John Milton, is the first of Ellie's final year pieces for performance costume, that I am going to share from the ECA 2015 fashion show, worn by India Herlem and Samuel Burkett.
"In 1930, thousands of people flocked to the New York in the hope of Paradise. It was the age of the first skyscrapers, with the Chrysler built in 1930 and less than 11 months later The Empire State was completed, surpassing it as the tallest building in the world, with the race on for everyone to create their own little piece of Paradise.
However in reality, the city was not necessarily Paradise, the Great Depression loomed and the class divide gaped. The city was unemployed and overpopulated, squashed into tenement housing, dirt, disease and starvation was rife. Yet out of this came beauty, in the Harlem Renaissance, music art and literature flourished, showing the start of a new and exciting age." Ellie Van Riel
"The piece would be immersive and promenade ; the audience would follow the story through the floors of a skyscraper and interact with the characters throughout. I would like them to interact with both angels and devils and see the human side to both and have to make a decision themselves on whom they wanted to trust through the piece.
After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the largest stock market crash in American history, most of the decade was consumed by an economic downfall called the Great Depression that had a traumatic effect worldwide, leading to widespread unemployment and poverty. Despite the fact that nearly everyone in the country was hurt to some degree by onset of the Depression, the 1930’s was a period of exacerbted class conflict. While many of the richest people in America lost money when the stock market crashed, the upper classes as a whole still retained much of the wealth which they had held before the Depression and in most cases did not suffer from unemployment. Perhaps as a way of displaying their continued prosperity in the face of nationwide suffering (or of trying to show up their social equals who may have been hit harder by the crash) many among the upper classes began to flaunt their wealth more than ever. Working class Americans, many of whom were thrown out of work by the Depression (which they often correctly blamed upon the reckless financial dealings of the upper classes) were shocked and angered by this ostentatious display of wealth.
The ideas for textiles lie in the thin line between virtue and vice. I have explored the way a practice, behaviour or habit can be interpreted as both a virtue or a vice. For example, the enjoyment of the earth and it resources, such as food, is virtue yet to delight in these in excess becomes gluttony, and therefore sinful." Ellie Van Riel
(above): detail of fabric print designed by Ellie Van Riel
I have created simple line drawings inspired by this concept that anything is forgivable in moderation but it is in the excess and the consumption of oneself in an activity, that becomes sinful." Ellie Van Riel
“To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” Titus 1:15
“Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. I will not be mastered by anything.”
1 Corinthians 10:23