The Africa Centre presents the debut solo show from this talented fashion artist
Although Moses Quiquine is young in years, he has been around older artists for much of his life, beginning with his mother, stylist Chantal Quiquine. Soaking up wisdom and experience from previous generations, Moses has held onto what he deemed valuable. As a result, it feels as though his work is an attractive balance of the patience and discipline that come from previous lives and the infectious energy and enthusiasm associated with people on their first few laps.
Just as Moses’ age alone could never paint an accurate portrait of him, his nationality takes some unpacking as well. While he is a London boy through and through (Camden Town specifically), his Bajan father and French Guadeloupe mother gave him a connection to another world. That connection now, specifically, to Guadeloupe, is stronger than ever.
This week, the 22-year-old artist opens his debut solo show, Voodoo Child: Identity, Spiritluality and Fashion, at London’s Africa Centre Gallery, curated by James Putman of the London College of Fashion. The exhibition is inspired by his exploration of sacred sites and shrines and of his Caribbean roots. Through a balance of trance, ritual, and a painstakingly meticulous method of deconstructing and transforming garments and materials, his sculptural pieces - utlising cow and goat hides and embroideries - successfully blur the line between fashion and art.
Here his sister, make-up artist/model Mimi Quiquine, and photographer Elizabeth Wirija, set about shooting the artist while picking his brain…
EW: So, how did you get into fashion ?
MQ: Styling first, and then I thought, “Well, I’ve kind of got a knack for choosing good clothing.” And obviously, if you can choose good clothing, then you can probably imagine good clothing, you know? So, I just started imagining things. Then I made a few things and people were very gassed. I enjoyed doing that. So, I carried on. At the same time, I was working with this stylist but I was starting to feel like I needed to switch things up a bit. I decided from then that I was going to focus more on design and art. And it’s been paying off, really.
EW: It’s good to see your work manifesting in the way that it should be.
MQ: You gotta work on it bit by bit. For me, people don’t even know what I do. I’ve sold pieces to some well respected people in the industry, and I’m among these people often. It’s just that you need to at least let people know what’s up. You need to take command of what you’re doing. I used to think shit will just fall into place, but I’ve just realised, nah, I’ve got to pick the pieces up and make it happen. So, yeah, it’s sick having a sister like Mimi, because she’s got my back. Everything kind of works out in a good way. We can help each other in the industry.
EW: Why do you think you tend to stay low key?
MQ: Well, I guess it’s partly due to the way I’ve been working. I trained with a costume designer for about a year, Mr Bruno, and this guy is so low key that it’s actually ridiculous. He doesn’t have a mobile phone and still has just an analog radio. Everything with him is a bit frozen in time. He dresses, talks and has ideas like he’s in the 1960s. But he’s a great tailor and a great costume designer. Of course, no one knows him. So, it wasn’t like people said, “Wow, you’re training under so and so.” When I finished training with him, it was more for what I learned than for my reputation. But then I realised that, maybe now, I need to be doing things for my reputation. As sad as it is, you kind of need it, still, for people to respect you.
DG: How did working under a costume designer change your design process?
MQ: The way he worked was very regimented. He would look at something and already know every step of how to do it. For me, I was much more like maybe I’ll grab some glue, and I’ll stick that like that. He would look at me and be like, “You are an abomination.” Ha! So, yeah, I had to check my ego. The thing that I got from him was the ability to plan ahead. To come up with the final design, you have to think about which layers need to go where so that when you finally sew everything together, it comes out how you wanted. Before, my shit was a lot more wild and things weren’t finished properly. Now, if I want a certain finish, I know how to do it, and I can tell other people what to do. Training with him gave me a deeper appreciation for the work I do.
EW: In the future, would you want to do more directing as opposed to hands-on work?
MQ: I like being hands on, and I pride myself on the fact that I get very hands on—even for things that are quite minute, like sewing on feathers. I don’t want just to be telling everyone else what to do, even though I would technically still be in control, my physical presence and energy hasn’t been on the piece, and I think that’s important.
DG: What did you learn in 2018?
MQ: Regarding art I learnt you should never cut corners. There have been moments when I considered deviating from my original vision because I realised it was going to take a long time! Then I remind myself, “Don’t stop! Continue!” That is the moment when the magic happens, when my creativity transcends my ego, when I feel like I’m having a conversation with the universe. It’s the unfathomable potential of creating.
Moses Quiquine’s Voodoo Child: Identity, Spiritluality and Fashion is on view at The Africa Centre Gallery, London from 22 March to 17 April 2019