“Patches? We don’t need no stinking patches!”

Misquote from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948


My creative practice has evolved around the practices of appropriation snd re-contextualisation which are also common within subcultures, for example taking items of clothing and affording them subcultural capital by constructing a unique style. I decided to use the Northern Soul patch as a basic format and subsume elements and argot from another subculture, the swingjugend (Swing Youth). 


The swing youth was a German group of young jazz and swing enthusiasts during 1930s/40s mainly around Hamburg and Berlin. Their admiration for American jazz, British dress style as well as the rejection of  National Socialism was always going to put them at odds with the authorities.


fullsizeoutput_22cMy initial sketches follow the “house style” and format of the Northern Soul patch. The wording states the clubs they visit and the slang used within that scene. Along with the typical jazz saxophone I have included a “jazz hand” salute. Northern Soul devotees appropriated the “black power” clenched fist salute, whereas I have countered that assertive symbol with a less provocative hands wave.  However, I have decided that this passive gesture could be reinterpreted using labanotation. The labanotation symbols have a runic appearance which alludes to early North European history and culture. Runic symbolism is currently being apppropriated by alt-right groups and presenting the jazz hand salute as a labanotation symbol appears sinister on the surface. Subcultures have a tendency to present an edgy version of itself, aided and abetted by the media, which can be misinterpreted by the general public. This tension between the public face of the Subculture and it’s symbiotic relationship with the media.



These patch designs were generated using a digital illustration package and then converted for digital embroidery.

Posted in Blog - MA Fine Art.

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