Monday, 17 January 2011


Somehow I had to chuckle when entering the saucy world of naughty 'Normah', the name of artist and designer David Holah's latest exhibition and I suspect alter ego.
David Holah is an old friend of mine, we met whilst he was studying fashion at North Middlesex University, it was there he teamed up with Stevie Stewart and created seminal fashion house Body Map in the 80's. Revolutionary in respect to surface design, innovative in cut, Body Map stepped up and epitomized the concept of body con in an era when shoulder pads ruled the mainstream. It's no surprise then that Body Map went on to design costumes for the Michael Clark dance company where their sense of body form complimented Clarks shape shifting moves with ease.

Today Holah combines his love of print and style with a personal exposé in the form of a visual diary. Normah is tongue in cheek, she winks, wiggles and provokes the viewer into submission. You have to love her... she's a cartoon of humorous and escapist stereotypes, but scratch the surface and the she-male, he-she that Holah has created pokes fun at historical female role-playing. Normah irons and pouts, Normah attempts work on a male dominated construction site in a film short and takes the piss in most comical fashion trashing gender do's and don'ts. I particularly enjoyed the mirrored prints and the notion that the viewer becomes part of Normah's picture.
Slogans and symbols layer multiple imagery, the effect unravels a depth but can be taken on a number of levels. The initial effect is sugary and camp, peer closely and Normah question's social commentary in a decorously dark style.

Currently on at gallery Ketchum Pleon down in Folgate St, E1.

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