The art of fashion Sneinton-style

Local families from Sneinton wowed at Nottingham Contemporary recently as they took to the catwalk and exhibited the costumes they’d created as part of a very special partnership between Nottingham Contemporary and Place – our community-led art and culture project. 

Children and parents from three local schools – Edale Rise, Sneinton St Stephen’s C of E and William Booth – worked with international fashion and textiles designer Kiren Passi and Nottingham Contemporary Associate Artist Charlotte Tupper to make artwork and costumes inspired by a tour of the gallery’s current exhibition Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus. 

I’ve really enjoyed this project because usually, I’ve had to pack my imagination inside my head because no one really liked me sharing it, but in this project, I can let it run wild and no one can stop me.” 
Dexter, Young Participant

Celebrating 100 years since the pioneering Bauhaus art and design school was founded in Germany, the Still Undead exhibition explores how Bauhaus ideas and teaching lived on in Britain via pop culture and art schools. It spans the 1920s to the 90s and includes works by 50 artists, designers and musicians including Terence Conran, Mary Quant, Vidal Sassoon, Peter Saville, Kraftwerk and Soft Cell. 

Suzannah Bedford, our former Creative Director who led the project in partnership with Nottingham Contemporary before moving to her new role as director of City Arts in January, explained: 

“Early Bauhaus artists used to throw parties and events around a particular theme or based around a set of rules, for instance, dividing up performance space using geometry. This soon extended to wider communities, when they would hold a themed party within a community setting where everyone had to make a costume to attend. This seemed like a fantastic idea to bring to families in Sneinton, whose creative skills managed to surpass every expectation!” 

As the pictures show, the workshops led to some incredible creations being made by children and parents, inspired by Bauhaus-style geometric shapes and monochrome shades of black and white. Participants got the chance to exhibit the costumes they’d made at a fashion show held at Nottingham Contemporary in November, with children’s artwork also on display. 

“We had a great time – I can’t wait to show the video of the performance to everyone at school!” 
Rebecca, Parent

Sneinton resident, Amy Finch, helped to shape the project working alongside Place and Nottingham Contemporary, including advising on the best way to involve local families. Amy was also one of the local women featured in Place’s recent exhibition ‘The Luminous’ with photographer Laura Dicken so she knows exactly what it’s like to work with an artist. 

“As a Community Associate with The Renewal Trust, I was able to be in on the meetings for organising this project which was really good for me. It definitely gave me a lot of skills being in those kind of meetings and I felt like I was looked at as someone who had the necessary information to be able to build this project for The Renewal Trust and Nottingham Contemporary.” 

Amanda Spruyt, Head of Learning at Nottingham Contemporary, said the gallery jumped at the chance to be part of the project: 

 “To be out and about in Nottingham neighbourhoods, building connections with local people and community groups is exactly where we want to be. It has been a wonderful experience working with families in Sneinton and with community partners, The Renewal Trust. The costumes the families made were an inspiration, we’re thrilled they found some inspiration for them in our galleries.” 

Lisa Jacques, Learning Programme Manager at Nottingham Contemporary, agreed, saying it was great to involve the whole family: 

“We were extremely pleased to have worked with the children and families from Sneinton in their schools and at Nottingham Contemporary. It was great to see all the family involved in the workshops, creating their ideas, having fun, and making friends.  It was great to offer that experience and we hope they feel this is a space for them to come back to time and time again.”

Ms Dolby from Edale Rise believes the project brought something very special to the school: 

“There was such a wonderful atmosphere in the classroom and the pupils (and parents) had a great time. I just wanted to say a massive thank you from myself and the children.”

Find out more about Place 
Find out more about Nottingham Contemporary and Still Undead: Popular Culture in Britain Beyond the Bauhaus – on until 12 January 2020.