Curious Trends


The all-seeing, all-knowing eye

In our surveillance society, where closed-circuit television is never too far away, it’s hardly surprising that Big Brother’s ever watchful eye should become a recurring theme in art and design. However, eyes are also considered to be ‘windows to the soul.’ In the context of the computer age, where communication is increasingly via the internet, eyes have become something of a curiosity: a symbol of sincerity, truth, wisdom, empathy and understanding in an era of virtual reality…

The past year has seen the emerging popularity of Egyptian inspired design, especially in fashion accessories. The eye of Horus was an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health. Depictions of the eye were common as amulets, worn as a talisman to ward off the evil eye, or for general wellbeing.

Charms specifically protecting against the ‘evil eye’ are said to come from classical Greece, later spreading to ancient Rome and other Mediterranean cultures. Contemporary jewellery designers, Tatty Devine, have been playing around with the evil eye theme for a while. This classic evil eye necklace (modelled by Harriet, above) was part of their spring/summer 2011 collection.

It's worth noting that Zandra Rhodes is re-producing her famous 1970 painted lady design, with its exaggerated, oversized eyes, on accessories in her collection for the coming season.

The eye has been a particular focus for makeup artists in recent years - from the geisha inspired looks of Harajuku, to Lady Gaga’s giant baby doll/anime-look eyes (achieved below using specialist contact lenses). False eyelashes have also become more popular and inventive in their design.

Now the eye is also being given a makeover by mainstream artists, from textile designers and photographers, to sculptors and illustrators. Here are some examples of the eye, as interpreted by a selection of young artists and designers:

Lewis Shaw, a recent graduate in illustration from the University of Falmouth:

Feliz Dupont’s artwork and sculpture at Heatherley’s School of Art:

Newly graduated printed textile designer Lucy Pham’s work:

Sketches, textile designs and photography from Sophie Emma James’ 2011 graduate portfolio (Mystical, Magical, Fantastical):

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