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War Boutique Artist Biography

War Boutique is a superb artist tackling the subject of War head-on through the medium of art. War Boutique aims to record the events that all too readily escape from the column inches, becoming yesterday's news, documenting them as pieces of social commentary, within an historical context.

The artist who created War Boutique, Kevin Leahy, was born in Glasgow in 1965. He attended The Scottish College of Textiles, Edinburgh where he became impassioned by textiles. He learned many skills including knitting, weaving, sewing and embroidery of fabrics; textile technology and development alongside the designing of prints and pattern-making. He obtained a BSc. (Hons) in Textiles and Fashion Design. His first employment in the textiles industry was making crinolines for the theatre, an influence that has surfaced in his Peace Pod series. Shortly after this, he started working for a company making body armour for police forces and armies around the world. This is where his interest in the highly sophisticated materials used for resisting bullets, bombs and stabs started. During his employment, he visited many Top Secret Ministry Of Defense sites. He made armour for the British, Egyptian, Indian, Pakistani and Algerian armies.

The War Boutique was originally set up in the summer of 2003, at Area10 in Peckham, London, in part as a reaction to the invasion of Iraq by US and UK armed forces, engaging local artists in the recycling of ballistic military materials (flak jackets, stab vests, body armour, etc.), as a symbolic gesture of peace. It has developed further over the years through a series of workshops, exhibitions and fashion shows, in conjunction with local and national organisations such as the Peace Not War Cooperative, Save The Children, The Damilola Taylor Trust, and Southwark Youth and Connexions.

War Boutique plays on parallels with the concept of the 'fashion house' to examine cultural trends, and to experiment with new ways of presenting, distributing and contextualising work. His moniker parodies the concept of the 'fashion house', producing collections inspired by classic imagery and historic conflicts and trends. As one commentator noted, Kevin Leahy "symbolically transforms instruments of war and destruction into constructive items embodying creativity, peace and critical social commentary".

In 2009, Kevin Leahy went on to obtain an MFA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College. War Boutique has been brought into the public eye once more through his feature in a BBC4 documentary following his graduates of Goldsmith's Art College. The programme followed War Boutique in the last stages of his degree leading up to the final degree show.

More art prints from War Boutique

ITEST - Black By War Boutique
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