Category: News (Page 1 of 7)

Installing Gluck

Gluck: Art and Identity opens on the 18th November at Brighton Museum and is a celebration and investigation into the world of Gluck, both artistically and personally. The exhibition is part of the ‘Wear it Out’ project between the Centre for Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion, UAL and Brighton Museum. The three exhibition creators – Amy de la Haye and Jeffrey Horsley of the Centre for Fashion Curation, and Martin Pel, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Museum – have created this exhibition in a truly collaborative way. Their statement of intent was to ‘create’ an exhibition – they do not differentiate between curator and exhibition-maker.

Paintings by Gluck. Oil on canvas. (Clockwise from right 1. Lords and Ladies, 1936, 2. Snowdrops, 1924, 3. Still Life With Scallop Shell and Blossom, 1972, 4. Orchestra, 1967, 5. Convolvulous, 1940 6. The Pleidaes, 1940-43)

The concept for the exhibition originated from a collection review of the Fashion and textiles at Brighton Museum, conducted by Amy and Martin, where they found a store of beautiful dresses somewhat surprisingly attributed to Gluck, who was renowned for her masculine dress and androgynous look.

Gluck portrait, Angus McBean, 1937

Born Hannah Gluckstein in 1895 to a very wealthy family who founded the UK-wide chain of Lyons tea houses, Gluck rejected traditional expectations of a woman of her social standing by running away to join an artists’ colony in Lamorna, Cornwall, wearing masculine clothing and engaging in relationships with women. She became well known for her paintings of subjects such as the theatre, portraits of society figures and floral arrangements. She showed her uniqueness in the three-stepped frames she developed and patented, as well as her refusal to subscribe to other artistic schools or movements of the time or indeed show alongside other artists.

Artist Smock worn by Gluck. Natural coloured linen, c.1920’s-1950’s. Brighton Museum Collection.

Gluck Collarbox.  Brighton Museum Collection,  November, 2017

However Gluck received just as many column inches for her ‘look’ which incorporated men’s plus-fours and barber-cut cropped hair. She demanded to be known as just Gluck with no prefix, and was singular in both name and artist path.

The collection of clothes Gluck donated to the Museum just before her death are conspicuously lacking in any menswear or masculine ephemera. Whatever items of menswear Gluck had were lost to a large jumble sale held after her death. The collection’s only indicators of Gluck’s gender fluidity are two painters’ smocks and a round leather box used to store stiffened collars.

This absence led the creators to conceive three different curatorial perspectives, as exhibition-maker Jeffrey Horsley explains: ‘the exhibition is a series of biographic fragments viewed from different perspectives – a conventional museum perspective, interventions inspired by Gluck’s own words, and installations that give a sense of an investigative process.’ Owing perhaps to the lack of scholarship on Gluck, this investigative perspective becomes almost forensic and can be seen through the use of maps, images, drawings and text.

The absent aspects of the collection Gluck donated led the creators to assume curatorial suppositions. These ideas are differentiated from the factual museum labels through their presentation on violet panels throughout the exhibition.

These violet accents act in order to queer the space through the colour’s association with the Sapphic violet, and history as a lesbian symbol. This queering of the space is acknowledged from the first instance. The moment the visitor steps into the exhibition they view a pin board on which portraits of Gluck’s female lovers are displayed; on the reverse panel are maps of locations and spaces she occupied, socially and professionally.

By using the colour violet and avoiding fixed pronouns to describe Gluck, the creators negotiate the difficulties in projecting labels such as transgender and lesbian backward to a time when such terms didn’t exist in the public consciousness, whilst celebrating Gluck’s identity and acknowledging how the artist has been claimed as an important historical figure by both the lesbian and trans community. This elegant refusal to pigeon hole or label fits with the artist’s demand to be referred to as just Gluck, without gender specificity. The colour also works effectively against the dark grey walls and helps to make the paintings in Gluck’s famous three-stepped frames stand out.

One of the only pieces of masculine ephemera, the collar box, will be shown suspended over a beautiful example of a 1920’s evening dress.  This display has been devised to deal with the absences of masculine items in the collection. The juxtaposition of these opposing items show what Gluck’s contemporaries would have been wearing, and therefore what she rejected.

Viewing the installation phase of the exhibition offered a great opportunity to see how the space is used, and how the clothes are to be shown. In the second room visitors will see a display of the floral day dresses that sparked the beginning of the exhibition.

They will also see a rather striking display of three black evening gowns that will be shown inside the metal-framed boxes developed for the recent exhibition Present Imperfect at the Fashion Space Gallery, LCF. The boxes were made with re-use in mind and here they are turned upright to frame the evening dresses.

Co-curator Martin Pel working on evening dressses. (Back: Floor-length evening dress with black lace bodice and long sleeves. Black rayon and black lace skirt over black underskirt. Made by Cresta Silks, Herts, 1930s. Front: Black silk georgette deeply pleated culotte dress with sleeveless bodice and V-shaped neckline, 1930s. Brighton Museum Collection.)

In the same room there will be a Legacy section including author Radclyffe Hall’s novel ‘The Well of Loneliness’ which was re-issued in the 1980s by Virago with Gluck’s Medallion (You and Me) 1937 as the cover image. Medallion features the striking profiles of both Gluck and her lover Nesta Obermer, who many of the dresses in Gluck’s collection are believed to have belonged to. This Virago edition brought Gluck’s work to the attention of a new generation.

This exhibition pays tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967, which included the partial decriminalization of male homosexuality. Throughout this year there has been a celebration of queer lives and rights across many media and institutions, such as the Queer British Art exhibition at the Tate Britain, which featured Gluck’s self portrait as its cover image.

Installation of ‘Gluck Art and Identity’, Brighton Museum, November 2017.  Co-curators Jeffrey Horsley and Amy de-la-Haye

Gluck: Art and Identity, Brighton Museum, 18 November 2017 – 11 March 2018.

Words and pictures by Flo Nolan.

A book, edited by Amy and Martin, Gluck: Art and Identity (Yale, 2017) is available. More details can be found here

As part of the upcoming DATS conference, hosted by Brighton Museum, on 23 and 24 November 2017, Amy and Jeff will be talking about approaches to the exhibition. For more information and to book.

A symposium, hosted by LCF on Wednesday 07 February 2018 will explore Gluck, her life, art and identity. Details are forthcoming, so please look out for information on the Centre for Fashion Curation pages and Fashion Curation blog.

More about Installing Gluck

Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture Call for Papers

 

For more information and to email proposals contact Dr Serena Dyer s.f.dyer@mdx.ac.uk and Dr Bethan Bide B.bide@mdx.ac.uk

 

Talking Heads

Jeff Horsley, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Fashion Curation has recently collaborated with Holly Shaw from LCF’s Digital Anthropology Lab on an innovative project for the exhibition Gluck: Art & Identity, Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 18 November 2017 to 11 March 2018.

Following a successful production for recent exhibition Present Imperfect at Fashion Space Gallery, LCF, for which Holly and Jeff realised a life-size 3D scan of dancer Ed Mitton milled into the base of a display case, their current work focusses on a digital rendering of the artist Gluck, subject of the Brighton exhibition.

 

Present Imperfect: a life-size 3D milled impression of a dancer was used as a background for display of a contemporary dance costume from Rambert.

Renowned for dressing in masculine clothing with barbered hair, Gluck presented a singular image in portraits, self-portraits and studio photographs. Regularly posed in profile, eyes down-cast, Gluck’s distinctive pose reads like a trademark.

Gluck

 Gluck

Jeff and Holly have aimed to represent Gluck in the exhibition with a mannequin prosthetic inspired by the artist’s self-image. Sculpted by Holly from photographs of Gluck, a life-size 3D printed rendering of the artist will be mounted on one of the mannequins in the exhibition. Rather than a hyper-realistic depiction, Holly referred to images of art deco sculpture and decorative art objects to produce a formalized image of the artist. This stylisation is intended to reflect the artist’s self-stylised attitude. The prosthetic has been printed in a plaster and resin medium to enhance its sculptural appearance. A cut-away to the back of the skull is intended to exaggerate the prosthetic’s artificiality and it’s digital rendering.

Digital rendering of the head of the Artist Gluck by Holly Shaw, Digital Anthropology Lab at LCF

Side view digital rendering of the head of the Artist Gluck by Holly Shaw, Digital Anthropology Lab at LCF.

The finished head arrives at Brighton Museum

Jeff Horsley fitting the head on to the mannequin.

 

Gluck: Art and Identity 18 November 2017 to 11 March 2018
Brighton Museum

Read more about the project on the Centre for Fashion Curation pages

Part of Wear it Out, the HLF-funded collaboration with Brighton Museum

Wearing Memories at FIT

The Museum at FIT is thrilled to announce its first crowd sourced project, “Wearing Memories.” This initiative asks contributors to tell the story of a garment that is meaningful to them, and requires only a short write-up and a simple photograph. The details of the project, including examples, can be found here. FIT hope that you will participate in “Wearing Memories,” and also share it with your students, colleagues, and anyone else who may be interested. They request that your entries be submitted no later than May 7, 2018.

“Wearing Memories” coincides with an upcoming History Gallery exhibition, Fashion Unraveled, opening May 29, 2018. The exhibition will examine the concept of imperfection in fashion, featuring garments that are altered, unfinished, or deconstructed, in addition to clothing that shows signs of wear. Fashion Unraveled will highlight the aberrant beauty in flawed garments and provide compelling narratives about their makers and/or wearers. Select entries from “Wearing Memories” will be chosen for inclusion in the exhibition, and other entries may be featured on a corresponding website.

For more information visit the FIT website

 

Street Fans: A Unique Liaison between Street Art & Fan Making

Jacob Moss, Curator of the Fan Museum talks about his exhibition Street Fans.

In 2015, I welcomed Paris-based street artist Codex Urbanus to The Fan Museum, where I have occupied the role of curator since graduating from MA Fashion Curation in 2010. Codex proposed an exhibition of fans designed by street artists, having already organised a similar project at the Musée de l’Éventail, Paris (sadly, since closed).  Animated discussions gave rise to a pioneering project uniting 1 fan maker and 29 street artists. The fruits of this unique liaison – 54 contemporary fans – formed the nucleus of a colourful and celebratory show at The Fan Museum.

Artist: Ender / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

From the outset, the concept of linking fan making with street art – tradition and modernity/establishment and anti-establishment – I found intriguing. Taking to the streets of East London I began to familiarise myself with street art, an artform previously unknown to me, and discovered a vibrant movement counting innovators, mavericks and provocateurs amongst its ranks.

Artist: Otto Schade / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

A cast of leading artists was soon assembled and introduced to project fan maker, Sylvain Le Guen, arguably the most gifted of fan makers active in Europe today, honoured in 2015 by the French Ministry of Culture as a Maître d’Art.

Artist: Captain Kris / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

With the ‘cast’ in place, I set about ensuring a meaningful collaboration and encouraged artists to attend workshop sessions with Le Guen and attend viewings of the Museum’s 5000+ collection of fans. From the outset, each artist demonstrated passion for the project and engaged well with the subject of fans and tradition of fan painting. Unconventional ideas flowed freely, unhindered by the technical and commercial constraints which often influence the work of professional fan painters. It is worth remembering that artists who’ve not made fan painting their speciality have, at various times throughout history, produced fan paintings. In this respect, the street artists participating in the project followed a path already taken by salon-exhibited artists, post-impressionists and modern artists. Indeed, The Fan Museum has in its collections fan paintings by Gauguin, Sickert, Giacometti and even Salvador Dali.

Artist: Nathan Bowen / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

Arming each artist with fan papers, arc shaped templates and written guidance, I waited expectantly for work to begin arriving at the Museum. The unwrapping of the latest package became a moment to savour.  The diverse modes of expression were inspiring: the arc modulated, enhanced and disrupted. Curvilinear tangles competed with geometric compositions; typographic scribblings evoked hieroglyphics; demonic felines came with elliptical peep-holes; buildings spun violently around a vortex.

Street Fans, The Fan Museum, Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London

Le Guen worked with sensitivity and creativity to bring each artwork to life, the artists’ unconventional ideas prompting the fan maker to work in similarly imaginative ways. Each design became a point of departure to be enhanced or personalised in some form or another with materials and processes tailored perfectly to match. Nathan Bowen’s distinctive London skyline, for example, made even more patriotic when mounted on sticks painted red, white and blue; Jean Faucheur’s ghoulish skeletons given a humorous twist when paired with bone-shaped sticks.

Artist: Skeleton Cardboard / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

In what would be a series of ‘firsts’ for the Museum, a Street Fans crowdfunding campaign launched on Art Happens, the Art Fund’s crowdfunding platform for museums and galleries. Seeking to raise £14,000 toward the overall cost of staging the project, the message to potential funders was clear and consistent: help The Fan Museum unite two disparate spheres of artistry for a pioneering project aimed at renewing interest in the craft of fan making, identified by the Heritage Crafts Association as at ‘serious risk of no longer being practiced in the UK.

Artist: RUN / Maker: Sylvain Le Guen

Over a period of just 33 days, staff and volunteers at The Fan Museum worked systematically to reach the funding target, publicising the campaign at every opportunity on social media, TV and local radio. Overall 151 donors contributed more than £15,000 which was set against the cost of producing the 54 fans displayed and a series of project-linked outreach events. Aimed squarely at engaging new audiences, The Fan Museum partnered with University of Greenwich, Lewisham Southwark College and Greenwich Market for a series of creative workshops. In total over 200 people took part in outreach events, many of which subsequently visited the exhibition and gained a newfound appreciation of fans and fan making.

Street Fans is at the Fan Museum, Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London, 19 September – 31 December 2017

Find out more about Art Happens, the Art Fund’s crowdfunding platform for museums and galleries

Read more about Jacob Moss 

Apply for the MA Fashion Curation course

The art of the prima donna

Opera lives through the music of composers and through the lyrics of librettists. Roles are interpreted by new singers every year. Sets and costumes are re-imagined, deconstructed and revived all around the world. But what about performances? How can old performances be revived? New singers will always focus on the role, never on a previous performer, as it is their duty to breath new life into operas written one, two, even four hundred years ago. A lecturer, instead, is entirely devoted to the story he tells. A lecturer uses his knowledge to present a narrative, and uses audio-visual records as evidence. And when there is no evidence, the lecturer becomes the channel for the past to enter the present. The art of the prima donna is a total work of research, a passionate re-enactment through the unity of sound, movement and drama. Created by Matteo Augello, PhD student at London College of Fashion, as part of his ongoing experimentation with performative tools in curation.

The art of the prima donna, V&A, Saturday 11 November 2017, 4pm. 

Read more about Matteo Augello on his research profile

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