Matthew Duffy

Grey Sheep

University

Royal College of Art - London

Graduation year

2017

My collection is a reaction to growing up in the northern town of Middlesbrough, where I didn’t fit in with the deeply hetero-normative culture, but the rest of my family did. In my process I examine the traditional but complex gender performances of my brother and mother.

My brother was a football player at school, which my family coveted and celebrated. I gathered garment references from my brothers clothes from our childhood, to deconstruct the ingredients of what it is to be a ’typical’ Middlesborough lad. I focused on the football scarf as a masculine symbol of belonging to a team.

When my mum was in her early twenties she won a beauty pageant. She is Anglo-Indian, and I am fascinated by how she succeeded in a place that promotes the ideals of the typical Western beauty. I was particularly inspired by the image of her winning the pageant, where she is transformed into a classic Western beauty. I took references from the sash which she wore - a symbol of the way she had been Westernised - from sari to sash.

The football kit and the sash are both images of my family’s ability to pass and thrive. I used these pieces as the basis of my collection - to recontextualize them into something I understand I drape, wrap, tie and knit them together. In this process I take something I have always had difficulty understanding and translate it into my own language.

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