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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

Work / Exhibition

Gary Card transforms Galeria Melissa into Medusa’s lair

Celebrated set designer and illustrator Gary Card is known for his immersive installations, continuously elevating fashion photography to another dimension of playfulness. Collaborating with numerous creative powerhouses including Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, Comme Des Garçons and Louis Vuitton, Gary’s latest endeavour involves transforming Covent Garden’s Galeria Melissa currently on show until the end of December.

Inside the gallery, Gary’s vision of a modern Medusa hypnotises viewers with large 3D tentacle sculptures which intertwine around the venue. The tentacles, soaked in a dreamy red hue, lead the audience to Medusa’s basement crypt where they are faced with the giant floating head of Melissa Medusa whose eyes flicker and spin. Speaking to It’s Nice That, Gary explains how “this was such a fun project to work on as the Melissa team gave me complete creative freedom to create the installation.”

Initially, Gary wanted to “make something that was beautiful, scary and a bit trip all at the same time, I thought Medusa was a fun and feminine character to explore all the ideas,” he explains. “I started thinking ‘what if Medusa had a teenage daughter with flowing pigtails made up of cartoon creatures instead of snakes.’” The surreal installation evokes an avant-garde atmosphere within the exhibition space. The tentacles are designed as individual sculptures of characters inspired by “old Max Fleischer cartoons from the 30’s”, dotted around the exhibition like mythical forest spirits. Gary explains, “I like the idea that the creatures that flow out of Melissa Medusa’s mind are slightly out of time”; elements of mystery are added through the differing aesthetic styles of the characters.

Galeria Melissa is a space where art, fashion and design come together. Located in a Georgian listed building, the interior is futuristic to reflect its innovative fashion brand of ethical PVC footwear. In keeping with the Melissa brand, Gary chose to “celebrate all things shiny and plastic. The set designer says “exploring plastic making methods seemed like a fun choice and everything from Melissa Medusa’s hair to her cartoon tentacles are plastic”. Gary’s design is also informed by the spatial experience of the building, “walking down into the Melissa gallery is like being in a crypt and a little intimidating. I think it’s interesting to explore this idea rather than fighting it, leading me to the idea of Medusa’s lair and a gigantic confrontational floating head that the audience can interact with”.

Adding further intrigue is a LED structure that changes according to each exhibit that is hosted in the space. Working with the long-time collaborator, Ferry Gouw, the pair designed the light show to further enhance the eeriness of Medusa. All in all, Gary’s consistently exciting work is evident at Galeria Melissa, the brand “is adventurous and unexpected with their design choices” and Gary certainly pays tribute to this ethos with this inventive installation.

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden

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Gary Card: Melissa Medusa, photography by William Selden