GOTH away-day and exhibitions round-up, Spring 2020

by Clare Taylor

**Please note that this blog post was written before the current global outbreak of COVID-19. Please check with individual museums and galleries before attempting to visit any of the exhibitions below**

GOTH holds an annual awayday. Last year we visited Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire to examine the contributions of Elizabeth, Countess of Shrewsbury (better known as ‘Bess of Hardwick’) through her architecture and design projects, textile work and correspondence. This year we are picking up the textiles theme again in relation to gender and otherness at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London’s South Kensington, examining the treatments of the wrapped body within different global traditions. We’ll be focusing on the upcoming exhibition ‘Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk’ (opens 29 Feb), with a Curator’s introduction before we view the show.

Together with Dr Ursula Rothe, Senior Lecturer in Classical Studies, we will also view representations of dress in classical sculpture, while I will be picking out examples in the museum’s fashion, British and South Asian galleries. If you want a sneak preview check out the Ossie Clark/Celia Birtwell garment I wrote about as one of the OU’s Academic Consultants for the ‘Secrets of the Museum’ interactive.

***UPDATE***: V&A Curator Anna Jackson has made a brilliant series of virtual curator tours of the Kimono exhibition, which are available to view on YouTube.

I’m also including a list of current/upcoming shows that might be of interest to GOTH readers:


Unbound: Visionary Women collecting Textiles until 19 April

If you don’t know it 2, Temple Place is a small treat close to Somerset House. And it’s free! This spring it’s housing a show foregrounding the work of women as textile collectors, including not only the pattern designer Enid Marx (whom I have written about for our Art History MA, A844), but also lesser-known women such as Olive Matthews, whose collection features in Chertsey Museum, Surrey.

Portraying Pregnancy: From Holbein to Social Media ends 26 April

Tucked away on Brunswick Square, The Foundling Museum’s exhibition (curated by Karen Hearn) probes the representation of the pregnant body through clothing, photography, painting and clothing.

Masculinities: Liberation through Photography: 20 February-17 May

Will examine complex representation of masculinity through film and photography from the 1960s to the present day.

Aubrey Beardsley, Tate Britain: 4 March-25 May

A rare chance to examine Beardsley’s work as a draughtsman and book illustrator. It’s the first major show of his work in the UK for 50 years, since the previous heyday of his popularity as part of the taste for Art Nouveau kicked off by the V&A show of 1966.

Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things, National Portrait Gallery, London: 12 March-7 June

Focuses on visual, literary and film culture in 1920s and 1930s – and a chance to view the NPG’s permanent collections (free) before it closes for 3 years from summer!

And outside London:

Radical Women: Jessica Dismorr and her Contemporaries, Pallant House, Chichester till 23 February

Pallant House is a stone’s throw from Chichester train station and has been carving out a niche re-evaluating modern British art and design in recent years. Their latest show focuses on the painter Jessica Dismorr (1885-1939) and her and her contemporaries’ (such as Winifred Nicholson) links to modernist literature and radical politics.

Grayson Perry: The Pre-Therapy years 1982-94, Holburne, Bath till 25 May

Reach the Holburne by train to Bath, and reflect on Grayson Perry’s early work, radical both in subject matter and in his choice of painted ceramics and sculpture. If you miss the show in Bath it travels on to York Art Gallery (12 June to 20 September 2020) and then the Sainsbury Centre, Norwich (October 2020 to February 2021).

Fabric: Touch and Identity, Compton Verney, Warwickshire 14 March-14 June

Based around the project ‘The Erotic Cloth’, this show will examine the role of dress and textiles in art, design, fashion, film and dance. While you are at Compton Verney you can also nip up to the top floor and see the folk art collected by Enid Marx with the historian Margaret Lambert.

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