Bath

The image is from the current Fashioning Masculinities exhibition at the V&A, visited as part of research for a new project related to fashion and archive. The exhibition is a slice through gender identity via the medium of men’s fashion. Archive is used within in it primarily as expression of timeline, drawing parallels across the evolution of fashion styles and societal attitudes.

Bath Spa University is currently in discussion with Bath & NE Somerset Council and the Fashion Museum over the relocation of the Museum’s storage facilities to a new building near Bath Spa’s Locksbrook campus development. The Fashion Museum archive is a significant collection of over 100,000 items, spanning 17th Century to the present day, but a resource that everyone involved feels is not utilised to its best potential currently.

The movement of the collection offers an opportunity to increase its accessibility and re-think its relationship with both academia and industry – and generates opportunities for the new facility to actively engage in research, innovation, skills development and the future growth of the fashion sector in the West of England.

I am working with Bath Spa to help scope the potential vision for the relocated Fashion Museum collection and in particular its connection to industry at a regional, national and international level – across all elements of the fashion value chain and including wider linked sectors, for example technology and sustainability.

Whilst it’s refreshing to work with a different part of the creative economy to usual I keep finding echoes from the distant past, in particular my involvement in the restructure of the Granada TV archive which displayed the same tension between two entirely valid positions, conservation and curation vs accessibility and exploitation of assets.

There have been strong public statements of intent from all involved for the relocation of the Fashion Museum and collection to be a catalyst for a much wider strategic re-think of the creative geography of Bath – and to use this cultural asset as a means to surface a more active and contemporary dialogue around skills, growth and impact. My role is to help prompt and shape the direction of travel.

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