Archive | Past Exhibitions

Night and Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs

12 October 2018 – 20 January 2019

Following the success of 2017’s 1920s Jazz Age: Fashion and Photographs, we are thoroughly excited to announce our Winter 2018 exhibition: Night and Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs!

As a decade of design, the Thirties saw off the excess of the Jazz Age and ushered in the utilitarianism of World War II. As the flapper grew up, so too did her fashions. The new silhouettes of the 1930s played with the hard edged chic seen in the Art Deco and Moderne styles, the unexpected as seen in the surrealists and the sensuality of silver screen sirens.

The exhibition will explore the day and evening styles of the decade, complemented by photographs of the stars who championed them. With fashion as the lens, Night and Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs will traverse the great period of social change that was the 1930s.

Exhibition on Tour
This exhibition is currently available for hire, please get in touch to find out more.

Previous venue:
American Museum and Gardens, Bath, UK | 14 March – 20 December 2020

The Secret Life of Scissors

9 February – 6 May 2018

This display explores the complex multiple lives of scissors; everyday objects, universal tools but also ambiguous ‘things’, surrounded by superstition, myth and symbolism. From antiquity to modern times, scissors have remained irreplaceable and indispensable tools that also reveal an intimate human bond; their worn surfaces bearing witness to lives lived. The Secret Life of Scissors explores these different narratives in a sequence of themes: life and death, fairy tales, crime, punk and more, constantly mirroring the double-edged nature of this familiar yet mysterious object.

T: The Typology of The T-Shirt

9 February – 6 May 2018

In this remarkable compilation of photographs, Susan Barnett views her subjects through a single article of dress: the T-shirt. By excluding faces from her portraits, Barnett allows individuals to project their identity solely through the slogans on their backs and to soundlessly express passionate messages on sexuality, race, spirituality, consumerism, violence, pleasure, history, narcissism and nihilism. This equally entertaining and culturally insightful display, provides a window in to the world we live in and the way we reflect that world through our clothes.


9 February 2018 – 6 May 2018

Explore the T-shirt in the 20th Century through this inspirational exhibition; charting the history, culture and subversion of the most affordable and popular item of clothing on the planet. T-SHIRT: CULT – CULTURE – SUBVERSION highlights the multi-faceted role of this humble garment. From men’s underclothes to symbol of rock and roll rebellion, through punk and politics to luxury fashion item, T-shirts broadcast who we are and who we want to be.

The exhibition will feature a private collection of Vivienne Westwood t-shirts from the early days of Let it Rock, Sex, and Seditionaries, through to the designers most recent collections, Active Resistance to Propaganda and Climate Revolution. This group of rare objects will form a central installation of the exhibition, accompanied by an introduction to the historical biography of the T-shirt and an insight into its technological advances, mapped through sections focusing on contemporary design.

Curated and organized in partnership with The Civic, Barnsley.

Exhibition on Tour
This exhibition is currently available for hire, please get in touch to find out more.

Previous venues:
Blackburn Cathedral, Blackburn, UK | October 2019
La Roca Village, Barcelona, Spain | 18 April – 25 June 2019
The Civic, Barnsley, UK | 23 June – 22 September 2018

Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern

25 May – 23 September 2018

Orla Kiely is one of the UK and Ireland’s most successful designers. Her stylized graphic patterns are innovative, influential and instantly recognisable. With a global audience in thrall to the rhythms and repeats of her designs, this exhibition explores the power of decoration to transform the way we feel.

Featuring over 150 patterns and products, as well as collaborations with photographers, film directors and architects, Orla Kiely: A Life in Pattern emphasises the role of ornament and colour in our everyday lives. Highlights include the original paper sketches for the trademark ‘Stem’ graphic, created in the 1990s, which has evolved to feature on everything from mugs and dresses to notebooks and even cars, plus prototypes for her early signature bags and the evolution of the iconic ‘Pear’ and ‘Flower’ designs. With unique access to the company archives, the exhibition offers a privileged insight into the designer’s world – how she works, what has inspired her, and why her facility with pattern has produced designs that have resonated around the world. This exhibition is a must-see opportunity for everyone interested in the changing look of the 21st century environment.

Exhibition on Tour
This exhibition is currently available for hire, please get in touch to find out more.

Previous venues:
Winchester Discovery Centre, Winchester, UK | 12 October 2019 – 5 January 2020
Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, UK | 7 February – 29 June 2019
Norwich University East Gallery, Norwich, UK | 30 October 2018 – 5 January 2019


Wallace Sewell: 25 Years of British Textile Design

 20 October 2017 – 21 January 2018

Wallace Sewell is a woven textile design studio founded in 1992 by textile designers Harriet Wallace-Jones and Emma Sewell. Inspired by the colours and textures of the countryside and cityscapes, and influenced by the aesthetic and ideology of the Bauhaus period, Wallace Sewell weave innovative fabrics using traditional techniques. Combining rich colour palettes with colourful geometric forms, their bold patterns adorn everything from scarves, throws and cushions to Transport for London moquettes. Today Wallace Sewell can be found in over 200 stockists worldwide, from Tate to MOMA. This display highlights the 25th anniversary of a textile success story, founded by graduates of the Royal College of Art whose global success is rooted in British design education and UK manufacturing.

Louise Dahl–Wolfe: A Style of Her Own

20 October 2017 – 21 January 2018

Louise Dahl-Wolfe (1895–1989) is one of the most important women fashion photographers of the first part of the 20th century. This is the first major retrospective of her work in the UK, and a key focus of the exhibition is Dahl-Wolfe’s 22 years as leading contributor to Harper’s Bazaar. Considered a pioneer of modern fashion photography, the exhibition highlights how Dahl-Wolfe defined the image of the modern independent post-war woman.

‘From the moment I saw her first colour photographs, I knew Bazaar was at last going to look the way I had instinctively wanted,’ declared editor Carmel Snow. Credited with 86 covers for the magazine, 600 colour plates, and over 2,000 black-and-white photographs, Louise Dahl-Wolfe often photographed on location and mainly outdoors in the then exotic locales of Cuba, South America, Spain and Mexico. Her work appears fresh and spontaneous but was always carefully planned. The exhibition features over 100 photographs spanning three decades, from the 1930s to the 1950s, and presents the work of couture designers Chanel, Balenciaga and Dior, as well as American fashion innovators Claire McCardell and Clare Potter. The models, whose looks set the style for the decade, include Suzy Parker, Jean Patchett, Evelyn Tripp, Mary Jane Russell, Lisa Fonssagrives, Lizzie Gibbons and Liz Benn.

Dahl-Wolfe also created a significant body of portraiture capturing literary figures such as W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, Colette and Carson McCullers; fashion designers and a major portfolio of Hollywood stars from Bette Davis, Carole Lombard and Vivien Leigh in the 1930s to Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake in the 1940s. A key focus of the exhibition is Dahl-Wolfe’s 22 years as the lead photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, from 1936 to 1958, working with Snow, fashion director Diana Vreeland and the designer Alexey Brodovitch. The exhibition highlights the influence of Dahl-Wolfe on photographers Horst P. Horst, Richard Avedon and Irving Penn. In addition, the Museum will stage a display of other photographic highlights celebrating Bazaar’s 150th anniversary.

Festival of Textiles 2017

28 January – 7 May 2017 | Zandra Rhodes Archive Collection

Discover textile history, tradition, design and making at our spring series of displays, talks and workshops. Organised to coincide with the exhibition JOSEF FRANK Patterns–Furniture–Painting, the Festival aims to illuminate contemporary practice and open minds to the ways in which textiles enrich lives.

Enjoy workshops in print, silk painting, tapestry, draping, pattern cutting, crochet, drawing, dyeing and block printing. Speakers on the Thursday Lates programme include textile designers Neisha Crosland, Sarah Campbell and Roger Oates discussing their textile practices alongside historical talks on Dutch Wax textiles, William Morris, Jacqueline Groag, Tartan and Tweed.

One of the highlights of the Exhibition and Displays programme is an opportunity to view the Zandra Rhodes Archive Collection. Unlike many designers of her era, Dame Zandra Rhodes DBE (b.1940) has kept a sample of her designs since she established her fashion house in the late 1960s. The archive includes clothing, accessories, textiles, print screens, kodatraces, sketchbooks, fashion illustrations, photographs and ephemera. This wealth of material is continually referenced by Rhodes: her work has always evolved organically and prints are often reworked or reinterpreted. In 2016, Rhodes collaborated with the stylist Grace Woodward (b.1976) to create the Archive Collection. This group of historic dresses was selected for their stories as much as the look – a dress chosen by Diana, Princess of Wales (1961–1997) is included in the collection. A hint of subtle updating in silhouette and fit freshens the collection, maintaining its place in Rhodes’s past but making the dresses current. The Archive Collection features 10 designs and was produced in 2016 in association with Ruth and Tom Chapman at Matches Fashion

Full Circle & Recycle – 21st Century Swedish Textiles

28 January – 7 May 2017

Tom Hedqvist, a founding member of the Swedish design collective 10-gruppen (formed 1970), curates the work of ten textile designers who represent 21st century Swedish design. As in the world of fashion, Swedish fabrics encompass a multitude of styles from Modernism to Romanticism, from abstract graphics to naturalistic detailing. In line with Swedish design tradition, colours are bold and bright, often set against a stark background with accents of pitch black. Features designs of Maria Åström, Martin Bergström, Olle Eksell, Josef Frank, Carl Johan Hane, Inga-Lill Westman, Synnöve Mork, Ida Pettersson, Anna Viktorsson and Maria Vinka and their manufacturers Almedahls, Boras Cotton, Designmäklarna / Frösö Handtryck, Ljungbergs / Berghems and IKEA of Sweden.

Part of the Festival of Textiles 2017.

‘Full Circle & Recycle – 21st Century Swedish Textiles’ is made possible with support from Svenska institutet https://si.se/

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