Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Is Pattern Feminine?

I've been wondering lately whether pattern is a feminine trait, ... or more accurately, are women more predisposed to understanding pattern? I know that's a generalisation like " Are the best mystery writers female?", but maybe it bears thinking about, particularly in my line of profession.

William Morris gargoyle wallpaper
Certainly a lot of 'feminine' items have pattern involved  - clothing, underwear, crockery (?) etc. - yes I know these aren't all feminine but I think you know where I'm coming from, so please don't throw stones yet. One would think because of the mathematical nature of the process it may have more appeal to male thinking, but over and over again I see pattern as a method of appealing to the female mindset or as an example of how women work in their art forms. This could be because historically many women's crafts such as basket weaving, knitting and crochet make use of pattern, and throughout history women have learnt to develop and understand the delicacies and intricacies of pattern making.

William Morris wallpaper
I'm not sure if its pattern or decoration that has the appeal, but its something I've been thinking about for a while and want to explore a little further, not only in my teaching practice, but also in my own private art practice. I know when I teach using the idea of pattern in the class room, some girls have difficulty with the idea of the "repeat" part of pattern and tend to head more towards the decorative idea - where pattern is more random and less structured.... something else that I should look at and explore presonally. Interestingly, when we think of pattern in art, two stand-outs that readily come to mind are MC Esher and William Morris - but that may have more to do with patriarchal society and the nature of art history. Even Gustav Klimt (check earlier posts during this month) who has enormous appeal to women and makes use of pattern and decoration in most of his figurative works is once again a male artist.

So, having talked about pattern and gender, here are some images involving pattern and  decoration by a male illustrator, mergs888 akak Ken K Chung from the UK:
I don't know if its me or not, but do you think these have a definite "masculine" approach to their use of pattern? Or is it just the subject matter or use of colour that gives it that feeling? See what you think...
Burn brightly, Pete

1 comment:

  1. It would be easier to compare if you'd had some female artists examples of pattern.....the male artists have demonstrated their understanding and interpretation of pattern beautifully, but where are the female versions?