New York-based, Britain-born designer Patrick Church has enjoyed a rapid rise over the past two years. Since emigrating to the Big Apple, his debut collection was bought by Opening Ceremony, and he’s delved into creating print work in addition to hand-painted pieces. Church has also quickly amassed a loyal fan-following and has become synonymous with erotically-charged and emotive artwork executed in his very own signature style. He’s even found fans in the likes of Lil Kim and Kali Uchis.
For his SS20 collection, he’s looking to push the boundaries even further with an extensive exhibition which will double-as a collection showcase. Entitled “A Hell Of My Own Making”, the event will be an interactive art project which features a series of murals and new paintings which are derived from feelings of loneliness in a city as big and crazy as New York.
“The past year has been really crazy,” Church tells me when we link up. He’s at his studio in Brooklyn. I’m in London. “I have been pushing myself constantly creatively and personally. Sometimes too much, to the point where I feel like it’s damaging – my own version of hell. I was travelling for work and feeling so far away from everything and everyone and the minute I got back to New York I felt the need to create a new body of work, experimenting with my use of colour and more chaotic and uncontrolled lines with a lot of deeply personal confessional text. I had a week to transform the exhibition space, so I decided to make it an extremely immersive experience, muralling the walls and playing with colour and light to create my own version of my personal hell. I wanted it to feel overwhelming.”
Emotive and raw, the canvas work sees troublesome Church-style characters sharing intimate thoughts and feelings. “MY BRAIN FAILS ME”, “MOST OF LIFE SPENT SO ALONE” and “I WANTED TO FEEL SPECIAL” are just a few of the musings which appear across his paintings, an ode to isolation and introvertedness. The space at 117 Beekman Street has been completely transformed into a dark and almost demonic landscape, where every wall is adorned with his hellish pieces.
Church also decided to translate these critical themes into a new collection, and so he started to explore the idea of heaven and hell and what they might look like through his artistic eye. The result is a clashing of characters from two juxtaposed spiritual states; angels dance with devils on silk shirts, suiting and biker jackets, creating a colour palette of mostly deep reds/oranges with baby blues and yellows and white. In contrast to his earlier work, it feels a little looser and chaotic. Where once he enjoyed structure and minimalism, he’s given in to something more fluid and free.
“I have been working on some of the paintings for the show for over a year, I have layered and blocked over them time to create real depth and layers,” he explains of his process. “I started working on the collection at the beginning of this year, I always have a million ideas in my head and this was something I have wanted to explore for a while.”
While most of his fashion peers will follow the maxims of New York Fashion Week by hosting exclusive ticketed events for buyers and fashion press, Church will instead open his SS20 showcase to the public so that everyone can enjoy his work (“I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to be part of my creative process, it is important for me for my work to be accessible to everyone.”).
He’s also decided to invite members of the public to be part of his SS20 campaign, rather than casting models from NYC’s biggest agencies. The exercise will be a chance for Church to create a sense of unity around his work and make the fashion industry seem less daunting and more inviting. “I feel like I have met so many beautiful people and characters in the city, that have inspired and impacted me deeply. I wanted to take this one step further and open it up for everyone to be involved.”
A HELL OF MY OWN MAKING opens 5th September at 117 Beekman Street, NYC