Rainey J Dillon
Exploring the past doesn't have to mean stagnating there - as proved by the resurgence of subcultures spawned by nostalgia. One such trend, steampunk, mixes elements of Victorian life with fantasy and science fiction.Steampunk, so called because it centres on a time when steam was a major source of power, features futuristic innovations based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style and art."It's a fantasy on being back in the Victorian era: you're looking forward to the future but you've got extras, so you're contemplating life in a different way," says Rainey Dillon, who first became interested in the genre in the late 1980s after reading science fiction works by Jules Verne and HG Wells.
She incorporates the concept into her art and jewellery-making - vintage pocket watches and pendants with collectible dolls inside, about a quarter-inch in height.Encased in glass and pewter or hanging as talismans are tiny ruby slippers and stars; mechanical monkeys, geckos and clockwork rabbits. Bird wings and old springs and bolts are inset against glitter, antique lace, paper or pearls. Her paintings are reminiscent of a Tim Burton production - with monocle-wearing gorillas, mustachioued bunnies and Christ depicted as a "Honey Boy".The look is sometimes grotesque, sometimes controversial, but always thought-provoking. "Words are important to me, so I might use one word in an old font, or an antique typewriter key for the initial of someone's name," she says. "I use antique wallpaper - some from as far back as the 1890s in my art - falling apart but beautiful. I've made wedding set pendants for brides and grooms too."
"The market has a 1920s feel to it. We play black and white films and old music, and independent chalets all sell vintage or vintage inspired goods."
No longer perceived as jumble junk, vintage markets are now where savvy fashion-conscious meet and purchase. The reason why people today are enamoured with markets, Dillon thinks, is because secretly everyone loves finding a little treasure.
"There's an element of luxury, when you know no one else is going to have the same thing. I recently bought a 1930s gold clutch, lined in silk with a jewelled kiss lock, hand stitched, for 20 quid. And you don't just get a product, you get a history attached to it, the extravagance of the time, the craftwork of the time. It makes you feel special, and everyone wants to feel special, especially in this day and age."