Thursday, 19 June 2008

New audiences; new threads of interpretation

Last weekend saw the opening of an exciting new exhibition at Bradford One Gallery; My World My Things. This was a cutting edge costume exhibition with a difference; it's an extension of the audience's wardrobe.

This is one of the projects that I assist in my role as Renaissance Yorkshire Community History Partnership Coordinator (what a mouthful!!).

For the past year, Bradford Museums and Galleries, Mojo Media and the Yorkshire Film Archive have been working together with a group of young people. The project recruited this often ‘hard to reach’ audience through an advertising campaign, a My Space site and open auditions campaign.

Each of the five enigmatic and captivating young participants chosen went out shopping with the film maker to purchase their own outfits. The Curator then matched their outfits with historical pieces from the costume collection and added some 'light touch' interpretation (which included quotes from the participants and famous fashion gurus). Historical and contemporary are juxtaposed side-by-side in an exhibition; along with the short films showing the young people's experiences.

I think that the project has successfully captured snapshots of youth culture and fashion in Bradford. Another key feature of the project is that it's not just a 'one-off'. Bradford Museums and Galleries are using the project to inform their collecting policy and duplicates of the young people's outfits have gone into the costume collections.

I must admit that I was quite nervous when picking my outfit for the opening; after all, what does one wear to a fashion exhibition? My resulting outfit was very 'Lucinda' (from the Apprentice) according to my husband, minus the beret (note to self, buy beret at nearest possible opportunity).

This self reflection only reflects how the exhibition makes the visitor think again about their relationship with their own clothes and what they say about them.

The exhibition is running until 31st August so there's still time to catch it.

If you liked this, you might also like... the Vivienne Westwood exhibition at Sheffield Millennium Galleries.

I am keen to hear about other projects that have used social networking sites like My Space to engage with their audience...

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