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Conversations

The new installation of the galleries comes from an invitation from the Cristobal Balenciaga Museum to respond to the new curatorial route through the archive. The exhibition Cristobal Balenciaga Fashion and Heritage collects together moments in the history of the houses Balenciaga established in Spain and in Paris, and each chapter illuminates different modes of display: the aesthetics and romance of the archive, of conservation, of performed museologies that evolve and revolve around these monuments of dress history. The exhibition format allows us to build up associations and conversations across collections, each adding a new perspective. My own conversations and installation pays homage to the new routes through the archive in the way that a new visitor might, finding one’s own associations to the material. The design therefore quotes remembered past exhibitions that have paid homage to Balenciaga bringing another kind of reference to the project. We see the work through the eyes, for example, of Diana Vreeland, Marie- Andrée Jouve, Pamela Golbin, Kaat Debo, Miren Arzullaz, Hamish Bowles or Olivier Saillard, among the many curators,  researchers and fashion historians who have sought new approaches to Balenciaga’s legacy, that are shown along the route as props. The architecture is temporary against the fixed vitrines of the museum: the tension between fashion and heritage underlining the questions the exhibition itself raises.

Judith Clark, March 2018

Fig 1: Left, The Salon, Gesmonite. Right, Rebuilding Janine Janet’s Balenciaga window of avenue George V in Paris, 1956.

Fig 2: Left, How might we acknowledge an exhibition as a prop to a new one? A homage to Olivier Saillard. Right, Film Stills from the salon.

Fig. 3: Left, Hamish Bowles’s exhibition Balenciaga and Spain looked at his roots in traditional dress. His chapter on Dance is populated with images of the models in the salon wearing white gloves. Right, Naomi Filmer’s gesmonite gestures.

 

Fig 4 The map of Clark’s research inserted into the museum leaflet. Charlie Smith Design.

 

 

Breaking the Mould, Fashion Curation for New Style Re-Publics

Alison Moloney, International Exhibitions Curator in CfFC at London College of Fashion,  has  been awarded a British Council Art Connects Us grant to travel to Cape Town and Johannesburg to develop a research programme and to explore possible exhibition opportunities and collaborations with CfFC.  Alison is organising at talk at Gallery MOMO,  an experimental art gallery which has displayed some of the South Africa’s most interesting fashion designers/artists on Saturday 3rd March in collaboration with Erica de Greef,  a fashion theorist, curator and lecturer at the University of Cape Town, and the gallery director. Gallery MOMO and involving some key industry players,  There will be a panel discussion around approaches to fashion curation with a chance to see the 1914 Now series of films, commissioned by Alison.  Alison will also be meeting designers and artists while she’s there for possible collaboration with LCF.   See below for the venue’s press release.

 

MA18 – MA Fashion Curation Course graduate show

The work of MA Fashion Curation graduates is being exhibited at the Bargehouse Gallery, behind the Oxo Tower on London’s South Bank. For their final project, students were asked to produce a hypothetical exhibition which were displayed alongside a collection of the work by the Centre for Fashion Curation. The show is open daily 15 – 18 February, 2018. Well done MA FC!

MA Fashion Curation display, MA18, The Bargehouse, London, February 2018.

 

MA Fashion Curation display, MA18, The Bargehouse, London, February 2018.

 

Model of hypothetical exhibition. By Susannah Shubin. MA Fashion Curation display, MA18, The Bargehouse, London, February 2018.

 

Model of hypothetical exhibition. Conventionality Is Deadness: Art and Performance in the Wardrobe of Lady Ottoline Morrell, By Gill MacGregor. MA Fashion Curation display, MA18, The Bargehouse, London, February 2018.

MA Fashion Curation display, MA18, The Bargehouse, London, February 2018.

 

MA Fashion Curation display, MA18, The Bargehouse, London, February 2018.

MA Fashion Curation display. The Bargehouse, London, February 2018.

 

MA Fashion Curation display, MA18, The Bargehouse, London, February 2018.

 

Interested in studying Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion? Find out more about applying here.

Find out more more about Gill MacGregor’s work here in LCF’s  Graduate Spotlight post

 

Primavera in December: Installing the Birdsong Festive Pop-up shop in Hoxton, London

One of the most rewarding elements of studying at LCF is being able to communicate a shared passion for curation both within and outside the University. Lecturers on the MA Fashion Curation course invite students to flex their curatorial muscle outside of tutor-led assignments, offering valuable real-world experience and a chance to put ideas into practice.

In December, several of us were invited to install Birdsong London’s festive pop-up shop in Hoxton. Established in 2014, Birdsong is a female-run fashion brand that works with local women’s groups to offer migrant and refugee women an opportunity to receive a living wage for their work. Their mantra is to connect women from worker to wearer, ensuring everyone is offered a fairer deal in the process. Their brief to CfFC was to curate a space that would complement Birdsong’s clothes and accessories with a dash of festive flair; transforming a stark white room into an inviting retail space. Together, we decided on a Primavera-inspired scene and set out to create a sumptuous, scented banquet scene to last for the five days the shop would be open.

Matthew Whaley and I were handed the task of sourcing flowers, foliage and fruit to conjure a table-top feast, worthy of Sandro Botticelli himself – for £40. With the need to maximize our budget we bought winter fruits in bulk from a local grocer and opted for long-lasting eucalyptus branches to fill the room with a rich, woody scent. We arranged our finds Renaissance-style, amidst silver chargers and goblets sourced from local charity shops and finished the arrangement with candles to complete the decadent mood. Annabel Hoyng focused on merchandising Birdsong’s eclectic range of stock: everything from the softest hand-knitted sweaters to Frida Kahlo bodysuits and painted denim from local artists.

MA Fashion-Curation students Annabel-Hoyng and Matthew Whaley put the finishing touches to the Birdsong Festive pop-up in Hoxton. ©Natalie Tilbury

One of the finished displays featuring Birdsong designs. The organic cotton t-shirts (far left) are hand-painted by women at Mohila Creations; a group of low-income migrant mothers based in Tower Hamlets. ©Natalie Tilbury

A detail of the banqueting table laden with clementines, pomegranates and holly. All props were sourced from local charity shops, grocers and florists.
©Natalie Tilbury

Whether you are just starting out in a career in curation, or working in a museum, tight budgets are, and will continue to be, an undeniable reality. It is the way we handle these challenges with innovative and inspiring solutions that will stand us apart from our peers. Important too is understanding what feels right for the brand or institution you are working with. Everything we sourced for Birdsong was from Hoxton’s charity shops, florists and grocers; further supporting one of the communities in which they work.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Treat every opportunity as a chance to show what you can do, rather than a drain on your time, and your postgraduate experience will be more rewarding than you ever thought possible.

Natalie Tilbury
MA Fashion Curation 2017/2018

Interning at Formula D Interactive: a month in

Maxime Laprade graduated from the MA Fashion Curation course at London College of Fashion in 2016. In his post he tells us of his current internship in a design company in Capetown, South Africa.

I was offered an internship project manager role at Formula D Interactive, a design company based in Cape Town, South Africa that specialises in interactive exhibits for museums. A month in to the job, I’m going to tell you how it’s going. But first, let’s go back to why this internship was a fantastic opportunity for me.

I moved from France to study the MA Fashion Curation at London College of Fashion in September 2015. With a background in art and fashion history, I took an incredible journey during my time on the course. I experienced new practices, broadened my interests and challenged my knowledge. I became interested in social media and digital practices, fascinated by the limitless possibilities they offer. I researched how visitors could play a bigger role in exhibitions, using interaction and participation. It’s become an obsession.

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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

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