Cabinets of Costume

The collaboratively designed exhibition, Cabinets of Costume, accompanied the international conference; Culture, Costume and Dress 2017.
Working closely with the exhibition curators, conservators, conference team and gallery managers we transformed the Parkside Gallery into a forgotten workshop.
The immersive space invited the audience into the world of a costume designer, offering a rare insight into their understanding of characters, art, anthropology and an intricate knowledge of how clothes express personality. Exhibiting archives dating back to the 1700s as well as work by contemporary designers, current students and reconstructions of historical garments, Cabinets of Costumes displayed the different techniques of the costume designer, emphasising the detail and art in every individual design and the costume designer’s integral role in bringing a character to life.

Cabinets of Costume was a temporary exhibition appearing in the Parkside Gallery between the 9th May and the 2nd June 2017.
Parkside Gallery is the entrance of Birmingham City University’s Parkside Building. The aim of the exhibition was to engage and immerse the people attending the Culture, Costume and Dress conference as well as the regular Parkside Gallery audience of students, lecturers and visitors. Our design included multi-sensory and hidden or discoverable elements to encourage everyday audience to continually engage with the exhibition.
As an exhibition about costume, there was a heavy emphasis on performance. Using dramatic columns of dark fabric, I designed proscenium like stages to highlight costumes displayed in an area of the gallery which is often overlooked. The audience was then invited to step out of the ordinary world through the curtained entrance into the Forgotten Workshop.
The Forgotten Workshop was complete with ghostly renditions of historical garments.
One of the challenges was establishing a method of displaying costume as part of a character rather than as an empty garment. Taking influence from literary techniques, I developed a narrative for each character and created mannequins inspired by these narratives. The translucent costumes sat upon these mannequins and were placed within the workshop in natural, human-like positions, bringing the exhibition space to life and emphasising the role that costume has in creating character.

Team Credits

Rachel Shore

  • Spatial Designer

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Rachel Shore
Spatial Designer