Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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New exhibition brings together work by emerging creative practitioners inspired by the Helen Storey Foundation archive

July 6th, 2018

Helen Storey’s Dress For Our Time: At St Pancras International, 2015. Photo by David Betteridge; modelled by Louise.

A new exhibition at the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies will examine the potential for archival collections to inspire fresh creativity at the meeting points of fashion, art and science.

Opening on 10 July in Project Space, Life on the Outskirts: Contemporary Practice inspired by the Helen Storey Foundation archive uses the Helen Storey Foundation (HSF) archive as a case study and inspiration.

Over more than 35 years as a practitioner, designer Helen Storey has produced innovative creative responses to innumerable briefs and issues. She uses the power of fashion to communicate and act upon some of the world’s most complex issues, notably climate change and the mass displacement of people.

The Helen Storey Archive (HSF) is a personal collection gathered over Helen’s working life. Themes found in Helen Storey’s archive of creative work, such as climate change, resource scarcity and migration are echoed in the work produced by emerging creative practitioners participating in the exhibition.

At the centre of the exhibition is Dress for Our Time (2015), created from a decommissioned UN Refugee Agency tent that once housed a displaced Syrian family at Za’atari Camp in Jordan. The dress is a symbol of what it means to be human and the precarious nature of our existence.

The exhibition includes work by art, design and fashion practitioners, all students and graduates of the University of Leeds and Manchester Metropolitan University. Over the past year, they attended workshops concerning the archive in Manchester and Leeds, finding inspiration in the examples seen. Exhibiting artists are Claire Batt, Helen Brayshaw, Kathy Brown, Natalie Goodall, Faye Hamblett-Jones, Georgia Hardman, Warren Reilly, Georgia Taylor, Mary Wells and Susan Wright.

The exhibition is curated by Abigail Balkitis, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies. Abigail said of the exhibition:

“The responses to the Helen Storey Foundation archive have fully embraced the principles of HSF. It has been a fantastic opportunity and a privilege to curate an exhibition with exciting new works influenced by themes so worthy of consideration.”

Kensington and Chelsea Bin Bag Ball Skirt’ from Present Times, AW 1993. Photo by Platon for 10 Year Catalogue, 1994Professor Helen Storey said:

“It has been a delightful privilege to investigate new responses, and share our work so intimately, yet rigorously with Alison and Rob and their students. This enables us to re-examine the value and key challenges of our long creative history and share the very human stories behind the work and what helped to shape it.

“Most of all, it’s joyous to see how our efforts have engendered such original work relevant to the designers of tomorrow.”

The exhibition is part of a wider project, Life on the Outskirts, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Project Principal Investigator, Dr Robert Knifton (School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds), said:

“It’s been brilliant to bring together creative practitioners from our student and graduate communities with Helen Storey Foundation and to see the fantastic ideas it has generated. This exhibition is our chance to showcase the results of this hugely positive, beneficial encounter.”

Co-Investigator, Dr Alison Slater (Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University), said:

“The project has provided an amazing opportunity to mentor a small group of students and graduates, away from taught and assessed activities. The Life on the Outskirts exhibition is a great way to end this project and share the impact that the project and the work of the Helen Storey Foundation has had on their personal creative practices.”

Life on the Outskirts: Contemporary Practice inspired by the Helen Storey Foundation archive runs from 10 to 20 July in Project Space. A closing event will take place on Thursday 19 July from 4.30 to 6.00pm, with special guest Professor Helen Storey MBE RDI.

For more information on the project and exhibition, please visit: www.lifeontheoutskirts.org

Images: Helen Storey’s Dress For Our Time: At St Pancras International, 2015. Photo by David Betteridge; modelled by Louise; Kensington and Chelsea Bin Bag Ball Skirt from Present Times, AW 1993. Photo by Platon for 10 Year Catalogue, 1994.

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