Category: News (Page 1 of 6)
By Jenna Rossi-Camus
This summer I will be completing a research fellowship at Yale University’s Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, Connecticut. The library is a renowned centre for 18th century studies and material relating to Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill House – all of which are central to my practice-based PhD project. I was awarded the travel grant to support my research towards the development of a site-responsive fashion exhibition at Strawberry Hill, Horace Walpole’s neo-gothic villa in Twickenham, London. The proposed exhibition examines fashion graphic satire in tandem with historic and contemporary dress, and material connected with Horace Walpole and Strawberry Hill, engineering the exhibition as a space for reflection upon the relationship between fashion and humour and as a conversation amongst architectural and psychological spaces, their histories and resonances.
The fellowship will afford me the opportunity to physically engage with material artefacts that were collected by Walpole – objects that have both informed the development of my project and that are proposed as exhibits in it. Most significantly, I will be able to spend time with albums of satirical prints that Walpole compiled and his extra-illustrated guide to Strawberry Hill. These artefacts have become talismans to my research that have inspired me to frame the exhibition itself as an “extra-illustration” of Strawberry Hill, and to explore Horace Walpole’s engagement with practices of exhibition-making.
During the research period, I will be in residence at Timothy Root House, an 18th century American farmhouse within the library’s idyllic 14-acre campus that has been housing researchers since 2001. I am particularly looking forward to this aspect of the fellowship; time to write and reflect in close proximity to nature and to objects touched or created by Walpole himself.
Find out more about Jenna’s research
Read an interview with Jenna
Find out more about PhD Research at the Centre for Fashion Curation
Interview by Ben Whyman
Tell me about your time studying the MA Fashion Curation (what years did you study and graduate?). What skills and insight did you gain from the course?
I studied the MA Fashion Curation from 2008-2010. My time studying at LCF was intense as I was self-funded and therefore had to both work and study full time. The course was a fantastic insight into the theory and practice of curation. What I found fascinating was deconstructing the practice of curation and what it means to be a curator, in the typical sense. The idea of the curator has definitely seen a shift over the past few years, especially within the realms of fashion and the museum. Another aspect of the course I particularly enjoyed was the guest practitioners that came to talk to us about their personal research projects with regards to fashion and its place and future not only within the museum context but also within the fashion industry itself.
What led you to study towards an MA in Fashion Curation?
I completed my undergraduate course in History of Art at the University of Glasgow in 2004, since at the time there was no option at Glasgow to study dress history as an undergraduate degree. After graduation, I took a few years out to think about my future and worked as Cabin Crew for an international airline. On one particular trip to New York, by sheer chance, I stumbled upon the Fashion in Colors exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum and had a bit of a break through! Everything became clear, this was what I wanted to do! On my return the UK I immediately began to search for a course that could combine both my love for fashion and the art of curation, ultimately leading to LCF and the MA Fashion Curation course.
Describe your work as a volunteer curatorial assistant in the Art and Design Department, Fashion and Textiles Team at National Museums Scotland (NMS). What does your average day involve?
There are two aspects to my work at NMS, one is working with the Jean Muir archive and the other is the Charles Stewart collection. Working between the two gives me the opportunity to work with both modern and historic fashion and textiles. The Charles Stewart collection is an eclectic mix of objects spanning across 3 centuries of fashion and textile history and the Jean Muir archive is made up of approximately 18,000 objects. As a volunteer, I assist with ongoing documentation, as well as carrying out an inventory and location audit of the collections. The training I have received thus far from NMS is incredible and includes museum database (ADLIB) training, object labelling and social media which lead to my regular contribution to the NMS blog page.
My placement is split between two days, one at the collection centre and another at the departmental office. A typical day in the collections centre includes locating objects within the store, providing detailed descriptions, checking object measurements and photographing objects for record files. Additionally, I get the opportunity to handle objects, register and re-pack a selection of unregistered material and assist with registration of new acquisitions and donations where appropriate. Finally, I have the opportunity to assist with research enquiries and research visits to the Collection Centre for individuals and groups such as The Costume Society of Scotland.
During my day at the office, I process the work that is generated the previous day whilst undertaking research to enhance the collections, improve documentation and locate object files. I also use this day to document any changes made in the store on the ADLIB records, change locations and add any additional information onto the database.
My placement also gives me the opportunity to assist with other research and administrative collections-related tasks, including working cross-departmentally with Science & Technology department on upcoming projects for NMS.
Tell us about the recent re-display of fashion and textiles at NMS. What part did you play in this, and what is the aim of the redisplay?
The new fashion and style galleries at NMS were part of a major re-development plan for the museum and forms one of four award winning Art & Design galleries. I joined the team at NMS after the opening of the new galleries however, they have become my new favourite place to hang out and gain inspiration for personal research projects. The work I have been doing as a volunteer has contributed towards the rotation schedule for the new galleries so it’s great that I am involved in some capacity. The new galleries are stunning and show off treasures from one of the UK’s largest costume collections. With the growing importance of fashion exhibitions and costume collections and with the closure of the costume museum at Shambellie in 2013, it was only a matter of time before NMS dedicated a new space to their amazing collection.
The notion and practice of ‘curation’ is rapidly and increasingly taking on new meanings – the process of curating is morphing and changing before our eyes. Where do you see the practice of fashion curation in general going? How do you see your own practice evolving?
Let’s not beat around the bush, jobs within this industry are scarce and so it is up to us as practitioners to create work and projects to keep us busy and expand our experience. Personally, I think this will be done by way of social media, virtual exhibitions and through research and writing, etc., whether that is through something as simple as blog posts or more academic like conferences. The trick is not to be too disheartened by rejection. The industry is fiercely competitive and there are a lot of experienced people out there and not a lot of jobs. However, it’s not just about finding a job… it’s about finding the right job, for you. Through my experience, I have learnt that I am very much an object-based curator. I love working with collections, material culture and the stories objects tell or don’t tell us. Currently my plan is to continue with the hands-on object- and research-based work and continue my blog for NMS whilst I search for the perfect position. As I look to the future I am confident that I will find the right place for me within the industry.
Find out more about the MA Fashion Curation course
The Centre for Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion is working with Brighton Museum on Queer Looks, a collecting and oral history project that will capture the memories and collect the clothing of LGBTQ people in Sussex over the past 50 years. On 1st July, the Museum is hosting the first of a series of public events in order to attract people to tell their stories about what it meant, and still means, to dress as an LGBTQ person.
Martin Pel, Curator of Fashion and textiles at the Museum says:
‘Brighton Museum is very pleased to be working with London College of Fashion on Queer Looks. At the first event on Saturday 1st July from 12 to 5pm, we are inviting people to come along and share their photos, their memories, and even to bring some of their favourite clothes, that tell the story of their identity, gender and sexuality.’
Queer Looks is part of the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Wear it Out project which marks 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality for men. The Museum also hosts an exhibition Gluck: Art and Identity which opens in November amongst its series of events.
Queer Looks, 12-5pm, 1 July 2017.
Brighton Museum, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton
For more information visit the Museum’s website.
For more information on the Wear it Out project, visit Centre for Fashion Curation’s selected projects
Disorderly apparel reconfigured
A playful project that tests the principal elements of exhibiting fashion: object, body, text, installation. A conversation between exhibition-maker Jeffrey Horsley and curator Amy de la Haye inspired by apparel which is damaged, worn-out or perished.
A high-performance reflective fabric incorporating glass microspheres that have, over 20 years, ruptured the textile surface. Lent by Oliver Evans, Too Hot Limited, Iconic Cultural Artefacts London.
Close up of a perished Redfern afternoon gown c. 1907. Metal was added to silk used in the lining. Over time the metal cuts, razor-like, into the silk filaments. The phenomenon was called 'inherent vice'.
Cotton with Raso Gommato coating, bonded with 'toffee-wrapper' textile (delaminated and split). The 'toffee-wrapper' facing is likened to a perished silk gown made a century previously. Lent by Jojo Elgarice, Jojo's General Store by Rag Parade, Sheffield.
12 May – 4 August
One of the pleasures and strengths of LCF’s archive is the idiosyncratic range of material the collections hold. The objects have been collected to reflect, illustrate and inspire the diverse processes, outputs and areas of the industry the college works with.
As well as a being a potent starting point for a collecting policy, this approach makes LCF a fascinating melting pot of different methodologies, ideas and forms of expertise. With fashion as the unifier, a tailor, a curator and a trend forecaster can each ‘read’ and understand an object in a different way, one which is framed and informed by their differing areas of expertise.
With that in mind, in conjunction with the Fashion Archives, we are starting a new series of events. In these monthly discussion groups, participants will be asked to ‘read’ and discuss a selection of objects from the LCF Archives collections.
We aim to take an interdisciplinary approach to the sessions and discussions, and to encourage students, staff and researchers to apply their different expertise and knowledge bases (whether practical or theoretical) to ‘reading’ the selected objects. As well as highlighting the variety of materials in the archive, the events will promote the importance of object based learning in all disciplines, and hopefully highlight some of the different ways participants will engage with objects depending on their own expertise.
To sweeten the deal and help start the conversation, a complimentary glass of wine will be provided. This event series is a great way for students and staff to meet others from different disciplines and Colleges.
Booking is essential as spaces at the event are limited. To reserve a free space, please visit our events website.
Object Reading Group, JPS 305, Wednesday 22 February, 6.00 – 7.15pm