Artist Maryanne Coutts has an unusual ritual: to draw what she is wearing each day.
Every day for the past five years Ms Coutts has drawn her outfit and reflected upon her day and the result is a fascinating exhibition that tracks seasons, styles, emotions and artistic genres.
“I love clothes, and I love that there are websites where people take a photo of what they are wearing and post it. It’s a sort of creative activity based on something we do every day, so I thought about drawing my outfits and making an artwork out of that. This exhibition is based very loosely on that,” she said.
Ms Coutts’ exhibition Dress Code: The First Five Years opens at Federation University’s Post Office Gallery on May 24 featuring hundreds of her fashionable artworks.
It’s somewhat of a homecoming for Ms Coutts who achieved a PhD at Federation University in 1999 and regularly visits friends in town on trips from her home in Sydney where she is currently the head of drawing at the National Art School.
“Dress Code is a project which attempts to harness the ways that the days continue to follow each other, one after the other; unstoppable,” she said.
“It is a journal of what I wear each day – not in a ‘realistic’ or documentary way – but a fluid emotional extension of the creative activity of getting dressed in the morning. Each morning; every morning.”
Over those five years her practice and focus has changed, with the artist at times setting herself monthly challenges including socks, miniatures, clothes from newspapers, and quilts.
“I don’t know exactly how it started. I thought I’ll do this for a certain amount of time, and once I’d done it for that time it turned in to something else and it just kept rolling,” Ms Coutts said.
“Now it’s become five years and I’m thinking about what to do with it for the next five years.”
Some of her works feature extra items like tickets or bits of “stuff” stuck on to the clothes, others are a little more abstract such as socks that reflect the weather.
“You can’t always tell the style, but they are pretty loose and the focus tends to change – so one month I drew my socks, after I had been to India and did a workshop on miniature painting I did everything in miniature, one month I made a quilt, one year I made an animation that changed every day, and another time I drew people’s clothes from newspapers.