Barely Wearable: body adornment for the age of overconsumption

A VERY CLOSE SHAVE – Disposable razor blades.
34B FOR A WARRIOR PRINCESS – Rubber, pots, nickel-plated.
HARD WIRED MOUSE – Keyboard, adapters, mouse.
SIX-PACK DREAMING – Bottle caps, six-pack holders.

About the exhibition

This body of work is a continuation of Ruth Downes’ passion for reappropriating everyday materials and objects to celebrate their intrinsic beauty. Materials for these thirty ‘wearable’ artworks have been gleaned from a diverse range of sources – from aircraft headsets to coffee capsules. Detritus from nature has also been salvaged to be re-born as a fashion statement.

By reimagining these materials she has created works that transcend their utilitarian function, casting them in a fresh light. The works question our accepted values and how we award status by projecting these everyday materials into the realm of art. They have a preciousness that confounds our expectations irrespective of their humble origins. This is much more than a simple ‘up-cycling’ exercise – Downes has an acute awareness of the potential of these materials. Her trademark humour also runs as a thread throughout the exhibition adding a further dimension.

These 3D works are mounted on a spectrum of coloured ellipses (350 – 750mm high) with several ‘busting out’ on mounted body forms. Some works are augmented by photo portraits of models (of varying sizes and gender) attempting to make them wearable. 

> See Ruth’s CV


Exhibition dates and locations

Over the next three years Ruth’s ‘Barely Wearable’ exhibition is on the road. It can be seen in seven regional galleries in Sydney, Hunter and South Coast NSW, as well as in Queensland.

> See full list of dates and locations


Interested in hosting?

Galleries are welcome to contact Ruth about hosting the exhibition at their venue.

> Click here for information for galleries


HEAR ME OUT – CD discs, wire, alligator clips
HARD BOILED – Plastic egg, egg cups, wire springs.
I’M ALL EARS – Reject headsets, coated wire, felt.
MIXED FRUIT AND VEGIES – Mesh bags, pvc, neoprene.


Brazzare Bra wires, hooks strainers, mesh and clips


Caffeinated Used coffee pods, neoprene