Tag: Brighton Museum

Stephen Jones Hats at the Royal Pavilion

The exhibition Stephen Jones Hats at the Royal Pavilion, which is in partnership with the department store Harvey Nichols, opened in February 2019 showcasing over 170 examples of Stephen’s work as well as outfits from Stephen’s collaborators Dior, Giles Deacon and Thom Browne across 15 rooms of the former royal palace in Brighton.  The exhibition, which runs until 9 June was co-curated by Jones and Brighton Museum’s Curator of Fashion, CfFC associate member Martin Pel.

Photos by Tessa Hallmann

Words by Martin Pel

A selection of hats mounted on poles surrounded by plates of food shown on the pine table of the historic kitchen in the Pavilion

Stephen Jones hats are here displayed in the Great Kitchen where nearly 50 of his creations are displayed. They include a hat for Matty Bovan S/S 2019, French Onion Soup made for Stephen’s A/W 1985 collection, and Breakfast Stephen’s S/S 2005.

As you might imagine, staging the show brought myriad issues as the Royal Pavilion is not a museum but an historic house filled with loans from the Royal Collection. One of the first issues to overcome was keeping fellow staff members on board; everyone was enthusiastic about the idea of the show but ‘interventions’ in the pavilion are not always met favourably. The interiors are as close to how the former owner, King George IV, would have remembered them with original decorative schemes, furniture and art objects all from the 1820s. When George built the pavilion and furnished its interiors he employed only the best craftsmen, architect (John Nash) and interior decorators. The addition of objects from the 21st century not only influences the way we interpret the original objects but has the potential of making the ‘new additions’ look inferior, if they do not meet the standards set by George’s original scheme. I am pleased to say that as a master craftsman himself Stephen’s work perfectly complemented the interiors and brought new life to the rooms in which they are placed, a sentiment echoed by David Beevers, the keeper of the Royal Pavilion and its collections.

Spanish Catholic crown mounted above golden wreath of leaves

Dior Crown – Spanish Catholic crown shown in the King’s Apartments, made for Dior A/W 2005

Objects are not allowed to touch any royal loan and in the Banqueting Room in which we imagined a dinner party thrown by Stephen with ‘guests’ seated around the table, stands were constructed by the mount maker Mike Penwolf so the guests hats hovered over chair as though in situ. The major issue with this display (and any other) is one of conservation. The banqueting table is laid with an almost priceless dinner service by Cole Port and the hovering hats had to be properly secured to their stands so there was no possibility that one moved and damaged any other object. Hugely heavy base plates were created with the stands screwed in place from which they could not move.

White stylised mannequin head and neck with headdress to resemble a splash of water

Wash ‘n’ Go, S/S 1993, made out of perspex and shown in the Great Kitchen

Each of the 170 hats not only had a bespoke stand by Mike Penwolf but Zenzie Tinker, the textile conservator, handmade internal mounts so each hat sat at the correct angle as though on the wearer’s head. The stands and internal mounts not only took considerable time to create but considerable cost, at over £40,000! The stands were made with longevity in mind as exhibitions can be heavy on resources so each stand can be disassembled and used for future shows in the pavilion or museum.

Mannequin in off white ballgown with twigged headdress reclining on a staircase.

Giles White with full outfit and headdress from his A/W 2012 collection

The Royal Pavilion is a living building in that events are held in many of the rooms over the year. For the Music Room which displays four Dior outfits wearing Stephen’s hats and two 3-D printed busts – one of Stephen and one of King George also wearing hats – the positioning of the objects was subject to events which regularly take place there. The only place where they would not intrude on events was either side of the fireplace. The Great Kitchen, which has nearly 50 of Stephen’s hats, is also used regularly for events and the only way to facilitate both the show and the events is for me to move the hats out of the way whilst the event takes place and replace them afterwards – a pain but the only solution.

White stylised mannequin head with elongated neck wearing gold feather headdress covered in red lillies.

Gold feather hat worn by Kylie Minogue for Mardi Gras in Sydney in 2014 and shown in the Banqueting Room

The show was held in late winter and spring as these are our least busy periods. The show was a vehicle to bring in new visitors as well as new demographics (those interested in fashion) which it succeeded in doing, but it was also scheduled then to avoid bottle necks. Labels were kept to the barest minimum so visitors would not stop and read and clogg up the narrow walkways. We are all familiar with the frustration of visiting busy shows and not seeing anything so again the scheduling gave greater visitor satisfaction.

These are perhaps some of the most salient issues in staging the show and there were plenty of other problems to overcome (storage of boxes while the show is on, the lack of additional lighting, last minute mannequin sourcing) the show succeeded in its aims in bringing new audiences by re-interpreting the stories of the Royal Pavilion.

Four mannequins standing or lying down on stairwell wearing headresses made of spanners, paperclips, porcupine and feather

Four hats Stephen made for Giles’ runway shows; the spanner and paperclip hat are from pre-fall 2010 show and the porcupine and feather headdresses are from A/W 2012.

3-D printed bust in gold colour of Stephen Jones with dragon headdress

The dragon hat was made by Stephen for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s show China; Through the Looking Glass (2015) which he based on the Royal Pavilion and it’s shown on a 3-D printed bust of Stephen especially created for this show.

Read more about the exhibition

Royal Pavilion, 4/5 Pavilion Buildings, Brighton BN1 1EE

Until 9 June 2019

Find out about CfFC’s collaborations with Brighton Museum

 

Queer Looks in the Museum

Zoe is one of a group of young volunteers working on the  Queer Looks oral history project which is collecting stories and clothing from LGBTQ+ communities in Sussex, garments which will be displayed at Brighton Museum as part of an exhibition of the same name.  Here she is talking  about her experiences on the project.  

“Being involved in an exhibition for Brighton Museum looking at the last 50 years of LGBTQ+ dress, was a very exciting prospect. Historical dress and LGBTQ+ history is a combination that I’d not encountered in a museum before. As a group of young people from Brighton, we brought an accumulation of various backgrounds and experiences, eager to help shape this project and work on our ideas for what the  ‘Queer Looks’ exhibition would achieve. The continuing thought process throughout agreed upon essential goals like making the exhibition valid and authentic. Also importantly, properly communicating the stories of the people kind enough to tell them. I felt that this project could potentially be challenging yet exciting to work on as it would reflect the stories from within the community.

The Queer Looks Young Project Team at their pop up ‘look book studio’ promoting the forthcoming display. Brighton Museum, March 2018.

Initial tours around relevant exhibitions, a trip to the fashion stores and a variety of workshops gave us a real insight into what it takes to put on a fashion display. We focused in particular on how to use social media to promote our work, oral history interview techniques and photographic skills, giving us a thorough foundation for interviewing older members of the LGBTQ+ community across Sussex. I personally enjoyed learning about museum curation in the context of a fashion display and the logistics of translating oral histories through exhibiting people’s donated clothes and their stories told. Along the way we also learned a bit about things such as conservation issues, archives, informed consent and overall limitations and freedoms. It was apparent that curating a successful exhibition takes more work than I initially thought given the behind the scenes work, both collaboratively and individually for every item that goes on public display.

During the conducting of oral histories, we gathered the stories of people living in Brighton and Sussex. This was by far my favourite part of the project as this required us to speak to individuals in our own community from as vast a range of people as possible who all identify as LGBTQ+. The interviews gave us an opportunity to ask people about the meaning of dress to them and to talk about their donated outfit. I found it so insightful that people have an endlessly different experiences from one another and that dress can mean so many things to different people. The importance of it can range from outward fashion expression, to capturing someone’s true identity. This is what gave the project’s significant context, that behind the exhibition being curated, the outfits weren’t just a donation, they had a meaning and a story.

This experience has given me insight into the procedure for researching and selecting garments for display as well as gathering oral histories, alongside skills such as social media and marketing.  I feel that the work put in so far from the young project team promises to deliver an authentic and impactful exhibition.”

Queer Looks is part of Wear it Out, an HLF-funded project with Brighton Museum and London College of Fashion.

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

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

CFP: 8 September 2017. DATS Conference: Dress and Biography.

Queer Looks at Brighton Museum, 1st July

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.

Mark 1985

Mark 1985

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
BN1 1EE 

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

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