’Never Again’: the life and influence of Judy Blame at the ICA
Judy Blame is a man of many fabulous hats: accessories designer, fashion stylist, celebrity confidante, ahead of the curve underground icon. He was doing ’art direction’ before it was a thing, creating the look for Björk’s Debut album (1992), and draping Massive Attack in fake Rolexes and Kangols for their Blue Lines era. He’s the guy who encouraged Boy George into headgear.
Now, London’s ICA (an institute known for championing the radical, unexpected and malapropos side of contemporary art) presents the first major exhibition on the British iconoclastic powerhouse.
’Never Again’ is a retrospective of Blame’s life and works, including his outlandish, safety-pin tangled jewellery, his found-art photomontages and his mixed-media fashion sculpture. ’Although Judy is primarily recognised for his jewellery, he has been a polymath and an inspiration to artists past, present and hopefully future,’ curator Matt Williams tells Wallpaper*. ’His ability to respond to the detritus of the everyday and transform it into an object or an image that touches upon pertinent social and political themes of its time, is a rare talent.’ A series of vitrines (’Black Magic’, ’Filthy Rich’, ’Old Rope’) collate this vast and eclectic array of work thematically, organising Blame’s colourful creative process into comprehensible tableau.
’The layout for this display could easily be the surface of my desk when I’m working on a number of jobs simultaneously,’ Blame writes on the vitrine entitled ’Beautiful Chaos’. ’This is an illustration of my working process and inspirations – from sketchbook to editorial and then through to the final product.’
As well as this intimate look under the surface of Blame’s unique aesthetic, ’Never Again’ is complemented by a parallel group show in the upstairs gallery. ’Artistic Differences’ considers Blame’s significance on the wider fashion and jewellery stages, featuring contemporary work from the likes of Mark Lebon, ’infamous night-clubber’ Trojan and Juergen Teller. Through his peers, and by seeing Blame’s work for the first time thoroughly represented in a gallery setting, a picture begins to emerge of the art-maverick’s far-reaching influence, as well as his inspirations, achievements and services to style.