Lifers is a careful re purposing of old suits and vintage life jackets – a re framing of materials, traditions and techniques in response to imagined futures.  Re-cut and hand tailored, the jackets emerge from the past in anticipation of many possibilities.  Each jacket encourages the viewer to touch, to try on, and to imagine.  These could be a memory of a life jacket once worn – a summer spent looking up at the sky, the taste of lake or sea water, sounds of a boat, reminders of a tragedy, or of conquering a fear? 

Or perhaps these are trending business jackets?  Lifers could tell the story of  precarious employment plunging us into a sea of insecurity.  Perhaps they predict an awesome sales opportunity for the fashion industry in response to the crises of climate change, or social justice?  Maybe Lifers will become necessary wearing apparel preventing us from drowning in a sea of work, or a new approach to mental health first aid designed to ensure emotional buoyancy; a muse on the  surprising buoyancy of male privilege? 


Created during my Residency with the Salt Spring Arts Council (AIR), the original inspiration for Lifers was the Titanic life jacket. The hubris of the Titanic as the ship the ‘water would never go through’ … until it hit an iceberg. When the Titanic sank, the band played on; ensuring passengers could drown in style and with class - much like our current corporate and political response to climate change.  Business as usual … the band plays on and one must dress appropriately. Lifers offers a ‘fashionable’ option while we drown under the weight of human action … or inaction. 


Photographs by Nettie Seip and Noelle Hamlyn 



Re-Tailored Suit Jackets 

Found Life Jackets


Begun 2019 while Artist In Residence, Salt Spring Island Arts Council. The collection continues to grow.


Exhibited Salt Spring Island Artist Residency

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition 2019

artist | designer | maker

© 2020 Noelle Hamlyn all rights reserved