Is “modern vintage” (or vintage modern? contemporary vintage?) even a real concept and what does it actually mean. To me, it means something vintage but done in a modern and updated way. And that is what I’ve tried to achieve with my new entirely handmade screen print artworks.
Everything is entirely hand-made by me in London - from the original drawings which are the basis for the works, to the hand-cut stencils, to the actual stenciling using black acrylic paint. The end result is a beautiful mix of modern sleek all black stylized flowers and beautiful vintage music sheet paper. The end result is striking and to my mind, is a marriage of the traditional and new and therefore squarely within the nebulous concept of “modern vintage”. But how do you display such works which try to cross boundaries and incorporate multiple influences – both the old world and the new contemporary. At the end of the day, I’ve discovered that you really just need to experiment and try it out. I had certain pre-defined ideas about the best way to display these artworks and I had assumed that my “modern vintage” artworks should be displayed in “vintage” frames to bring out their old world character.
I've also been busy actually sourcing the paper, cutting the stencils, and completing all the works. I have also been looking for the perfect frames everywhere to complement the vintage look of the artworks. From vintage markets Old Spitalfields Antique & Vintage Flea Market to shops on Brick Lane Market and South London. All to find vintage beautiful frames. And finally I found some at a shop on Brick Lane. And I was happy that they look beautiful and they really make the works stand out and complement them oh so well.
And then I realised that actually I need a more consistent supply of such frames (at the end of the day, each separate design is done in a limited edition of 200 and with 10 designs, that potentially means 2,000 frames). Not all of them will be sold with frames, but still, I needed more than just the 20 that I had bought. I went to a couple of frames shops to see what they could offer and they told me flat out that frankly, I could never recreate what I wanted and what the vintage frames were. The vintage frames were real wood and it seemed they were specially made in Italy as a custom order. The framers in London told me that you could never really recreate them the same way and that if you did, it would cost you more than £100 per frame… (for a frame to fit a piece that is 30 cm x 40 cm…) The framers showed me a variety of other possibilities of new modern frames – frames where they were made from wood composite with wood veneer, which look nice but they are not quite right. At one point, I even considered making our own frames (it’s something I often think about)…. But at the end of my research, I was quite dejected about the whole thing. I also did some experiments of mounting the stencils (again, breaking a few eggs / ruining a few artworks) onto wooden board or canvas but it just didn’t quite look right. And my goal all this time was to find a frame to go with the vintage feel of the works.
This was all very frustrating until I reminded myself that actually, the finished artwork has a vintage feel (based on the old musical sheet paper) but also a very modern sensibility with the sleek and all black modern stylized flower design. And that actually, perhaps the best way to show the works is to embrace the more modern part of the look – to really make the black flowers pop. And so, I went back to my old trusty black frames – I think they look much more modern and sleek (yet vintage).
While I do like the brown frames, it’s the black ones that I think look really fantastic. And despite what I had thought initially on my assumption about using a vintage frame to bring out the vintage feel of the work, I actually prefer the black modern frame. To me, that black frame displaying my musical sheet paper artworks helps show what I think the concept of modern vintage can mean.