How personal tragedy lies behind former Hackney New School teacher Annie Nicholson’s ‘wearable art’

PUBLISHED: 17:30 13 December 2018

Artist Annie Nicholson modelling her kimono

Artist Annie Nicholson modelling her kimono

Annie Nicholson

Annie Nicholson’s wearable art has a “tongue-in-cheek” element – but behind the humour lies a personal tragedy.

Artist Annie Nicholson modelling her 'crash bang wallop' apron dressArtist Annie Nicholson modelling her 'crash bang wallop' apron dress

The former art teacher at Hackney New School lost her mother, sister and her partner in a helicopter crash in New York in 2011, and soon after her father died of a heart attack.

Grief changed her perspective on everything, and as one of the last living members of her family forced her to reconsider the role of legacy and ancestry.

Annie, who goes by the name of Fandangoe Kid, has now launched her gold dazzle work wear range dubbed Make Your Legacy Golden. It includes a “Get f***ing bold catsuit”, “Crash bang wallop apron dress” and “Here to f*** s*** up giant tote”.

She told the Gazette: “I feel like I haven’t got this far in my life without being bold and having to battle through, tooth and nail, to get to the point that I’m at. What happened to me is really unimaginable and it definitely nearly killed me emotionally. It was a fight or flight situation and beyond crushing to be honest. If you told me at 27 or 28 that this would happen to me, it’d say there is no way I’d get through it. My art offers a perspective on grief and survival and love and loss, and it’s a bit of fun as well.

Artist Annie Nicholson modelling her 'get f***ing bold' catsuitArtist Annie Nicholson modelling her 'get f***ing bold' catsuit

“I come from an eccentric family where the dress up was always a big deal. My dad would ring me and ask me what I was wearing so he could coordinate his outfit.”

The ultimate idea behind her work is to create platforms for open conversations about difficult and complex subject matters.

She has made public installations on the same themes of love, loss, grief and trauma around the world from New York to Madrid, Sydney and London. She left HNS at the end of the summer term, but would love to go back and pay a visit wearing her clothing range.

“I’m sure a few mouths would drop open, but I’m keen to bridge that gap between the us and them situation with kids,” she said.

Artist Annie Nicholson modelling her 'here to f*** s*** up' giant toteArtist Annie Nicholson modelling her 'here to f*** s*** up' giant tote

“I think the kids would absolutely love it, and I have been in with some of the bags which is probably not good, but the kids know my work and that there’s quite a lot of swearing.

“I always found it was good to connect with the kids by showing my work and the honesty and vulnerability, and then they are more likely to engage with you about what they are doing creatively and how it might be a reflection of their lives.”

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