always a little concerned when I set of to see something marketed
as "de-coding the symbolism of a social phenomenon".
Langmead family from Market Harborough commenting on Fiona Mathison's
"Gender Specific" in Leicester City Gallery's window.
have worried. Not only does the big summer exhibition at the City
Gallery explore many different aspects of how hats and gloves convey
messages about social aspiration and subversion, it also lets you
get your hands on some rather fabulous headgear and muck about with
the David Shilling, Vivienne Westwood, Dai Reese, Philip Treacy
and Stephen Jones hats in the exhibition are off limits - strictly
a "look but don't touch" rule. But boy are they good to
look at. And you can get right up close and see how they are painted,
structured, stitched, and starched. And you can also see them 'in
action' in the footage of some of the top fashion shows that is
played alongside them.
grandma been up to? Joyce Queenborough (in the hat) and Mable
Smith, both of Hinckley Rd., Leicester, get involved in the
gallery's hat parade.
And it seems that online auction sites have turned up a good job
lot of hats that you can get your mits on. The first thing visitors
stumble upon is the hat box and stand. Between 12 and 3.30pm each
day a lovely feller will take your photograph in your chosen crowing
glory (I found a particularly fetching milkmaid's cap). A copy will
be sent to you at home, and you sign away your modesty by allowing
the gallery to display the photos at a later date. The ones on the
wall already were a great study in how people change when they put
on a hat - embarrassed, confident, silly, feeling different.
And just check out what your gran and grandad have been doing if
they've been into town. The number of people pretending to be pirates,
mexicans, or 50s sex kittens, increased dramatically as a number
of people well into their silver years turned up at the gallery.
Joyce Queenborough and Mable Smith of Hinckley Road used to have
to wear hats on Sundays, expecially for Sunday school. I bet those
were nothing like the pith helmets, sombreros and bishop's mitres
I saw them skipping about in during their visit.
truly in a milkmaid's hat, standing next to a photograph of
a rather more glamorous Mrs Shilling dressed for Ascot.
As usual, the summer exhibition is accompanied by an astonishing
choice of workshops and talks for people from three years old to
to six year olds can enjoy any of twenty events from Painted Paws
to Kooky Caps in the Sunny Sombreros choices.
Turban events for seven to 13 year olds cover Cool caps, gorgeous
or gruesome gloves and Heavenly Hat Boxes.
Hatz, from the more cool 12 to 17 year olds offers hAttitude,
Fashionista and Hip Hatz with 'Seize' an urban illustrator.
there's more, from the Batty Bowlers family club to the adult
workshops and artist talks.
forgetting the gloves:
there are gloves - lots of them. Apologies to g-lovers the world
over for only getting to them now. Button encrusted black ones,
a collection of lost gloves, latex gloves filled with water and
made gender specific with sacks of pollen. You name it, you'll find
it here too.
So, there's something for everyone here. Intellectual and fun. Breathtaking,
subversive, establishment and just plain wierd. Go along and have