An Eye for Fashion at MShed

Where: MShed, Princes Whart, Wapping road, BS1 4RN

When: 21 January 2012 9:00am to 15 April 2012 4:00pm

Reflecting a pivotal decade in the emancipation of women and the fashion that celebrated this new independence, ‘An Eye for Fashion’ captures a dynamic era of British social history and documents the work of the designers who laid the foundations of the modern fashion industry, as seen through the lens of Norman Parkinson, one of the foremost photographers of the day.

‘An Eye for Fashion’ is a collaboration between the Angela Williams Archive (AWA) and Bristol Museums, Galleries and Archives, featuring around 60 rare and original vintage prints taken from an important collection of over 200 images that comprise the AWA’s ‘Designers of British Fashion’ portfolio. The exhibition opens on Saturday, 21 January, 2012 and runs until Sunday, 15 April, 2012. A programme of events, talks and workshops will accompany the exhibition.

Complementing the photography will be a selection of 1950s and 1960s ephemera, including high street fashion and other objects from the museum’s own collections. These exhibits will provide a vivid context for the photography and invoke a sense of nostalgia for this fascinating era of rapid social change. The exhibition provides a window into the work of the great British photographer Norman Parkinson, whose work spanned six decades of the 20th century.

During the peak of his career, from 1945 to 1960, Parkinson was employed as a portrait and fashion photographer for Vogue, and from 1960 to 1964 he was an Associate Contributing Editor of Queen magazine. From 1964 until his death in 1990 he worked as a freelance photographer. The Angela Williams Archive is a collection of original vintage prints by Norman Parkinson, dating from 1954 - 1964. The AWA regularly curates themed exhibitions and engages in a range of projects to promote Parkinson’s contribution to British photography. Angela Williams enjoyed a creative collaboration with Parkinson when she worked as his assistant in the early 1960s, before going on to enjoy her own successful career as a photographer, and has spent the past decade carefully cataloguing and researching the archive to preserve Parkinson’s legacy.

“These prints represent one of the most creative periods of Parkinson’s career, but most of the images have not been published or exhibited since they were first taken, so it is very exciting to be able to bring these works to a new audience,” says Angela Williams. “Parkinson always claimed he was a working photographer not an artist, but with the passage of time these photographs have gathered substantial artistic and historical significance, and the images now transcend their original purpose. He was the first fashion photographer to take his models out of the stuffy confines of a studio into the real world, where he captured their natural beauty with his trademark mix of realism and wit. Parkinson’s innovative yet meticulous approach ensured there was always a touch of magic in his work; he did not merely document, but also influenced, the Zeitgeist.”

Julie Finch, head of Bristol’s Museums, Galleries and Archives, adds: “We are delighted to have ‘An Eye for Fashion’ as our major spring exhibition at M Shed. This will be our first jointly curated show, bringing together rare vintage photography and fascinating objects from our collections to reveal the glamour and style of this exciting era.”

Entry Cost: £5

Posted by: Caroline Marshall | 19-01-2012

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