Marta Stok’s graduate collection ‘You Dirty Beast’ explores the idea of Western ‘civilised’ society and wonders whether there is a disconnect between ourselves and our animal origins. Her work is materially driven, manipulating discarded fish skins through home curing, natural dyeing and laser engraving in order to create pieces that challenge assumptions of what is desirable and what is disgusting. She discovered the different qualities of each fish skin and the various finishes she could achieve through altering the curing and drying processes. She experimented with coffee, tea, avocado and egg to dye the skins and began to shape the material to the body through stitching, molding and combining it with metals.
Inspired by objects that signify civility such as napkins and handkerchiefs, Marta experimented with laser-cutting ornamental finishes into the skins and engraving her own drawings which blended animal-human creatures with recognisable decorative patterns. Embellishing the skate skins with such patterns brought out the lace-like quality of the translucent, light-coloured material and created samples that were both intricate and grotesque.
Considering the traditional placement of napkins on the body led Marta to mold the skins to various body parts and to combine them with chain-mail as a way of adding weight and structure. This chain-mail was added to panels of coffee-tanned salmon skins that were stitched and laser-cut with a lace pattern.
Marta considered the way static objects show signs of human interaction such as stains and creases and experimented with chain-links as a way to enable the skins to join together and fold. She was inspired by crude, utilitarian forms of chain such as barbed wire and animal restraints which she translated into wax-carvings and forged hooks. With these she made gold-plated chains and combined them with the skins. These chain pieces show the wearable side of the collection, while the larger pieces are more abstract and sculptural.