In this episode of Dior Talks, series host Katy Hessel, a London-based curator, writer and art historian, speaks to Penny Slinger, the British-born, California-based artist, about her long career and her recent Dior collaborations with Maria Grazia Chiuri.
Specially for the Dior autumn-winter 2019 haute couture show, Slinger designed a unique and exquisite gilded doll’s house as a mystical yet pertinent work of wearable apparel, based on the form of the iconic Dior hôtel particulier at 30 Avenue Montaigne. She was inspired by the building, by each step of its iconic staircase, which, for the show, she transformed and transported to her own surreal universe. This scenography, which celebrates the Dior heritage, the strength and beauty of natural elements, and the diversity and uniqueness of women, subtly references her organic and resolutely feminist output.
Penny Slinger was born in London in 1947, and studied at Chelsea School of Art in the late 60s. Declining an offer to undertake a master’s degree at the Royal College of Art, she chose instead to launch her artistic practice. Her work was included in a group exhibition at London’s renowned Institute of Contemporary Art in 1969. Slinger published a book of her photographic collages in 1971 and Rolling Stone magazine compared its importance to that of The Beatles. Slinger developed her theories and practice around ideas of surrealism and its relationship to feminism. In tandem with exhibiting at London museums and galleries, she worked closely with the worlds of theater and film, consistently publishing books of her visual work and poetry.
In 1980, she moved to the Caribbean, where she evolved her practice in the direction of archaeology and indigenous cultures. From there she moved to Northern California in 1994, hosting events and residencies for creatives in the region. She became an American citizen and has lived in California since. She has exhibited widely throughout her career, in the UK, Europe, across the USA, Asia and the Caribbean.