Exhibitions

2021 UNDERCOVER - FROM NECESSITY TO LUXURY: THE EVOLUTION OF FACE COVERINGS DURING COVID-19.
Discarded mask #204

Discarded mask #204. Photograph by Andrew Groves

Professor Andrew Groves

London Gallery West

9 – 29 June 2021

First presented in May 2021 as 52 NFTs (non-fungible tokens), a selection of images from Undercover, From Necessity to Debris: The Pollution of Face Coverings During Covid-19 are currently on show at London Gallery West, at the University of Westminster.

In this new gallery setting, ten photographs from the series of 365 images are presented at A0 size. Reimagined on this grandiose scale, they serve as abstract meditations on the minutiae of urban life, serving as both an archive of highly disposable material culture and a reflection on the environmental impact of our response to COVID-19.

While the original online exhibition was open to the public, this new gallery exhibition is only open to current University of Westminster students and staff due to COVID-19 restrictions.

2021 UNDERCOVER - FROM NECESSITY TO LUXURY: THE EVOLUTION OF FACE COVERINGS DURING COVID-19.

Curated by Professor Andrew Groves, Dr Danielle Sprecher

 

11 May – 5 June 2021


Opening on 11th May 2021 (one year on from when the UK government first advised people to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces), the exhibition will explore how masks have evolved from being a functional PPE object in short supply to becoming an everyday object worn by millions. The simple cloth face covering, which appears to be an unassuming and uncomplicated object, has quickly become a symbolic and contentious artefact.


The exhibition will present 52 unique face covers arranged in chronological order. It will examine how rapidly the fashion industry adapted production, manufacturing, and online marketing to meet changing consumer demands. Brands responded quickly to support the global effort to produce PPE for medical personnel. As masks became mandatory, this shifted to labels developing and manufacturing face coverings for their own customers.


It will explore how these ordinary objects have been transformed from their medical origins to become a highly desirable fashion accessory produced by companies ranging from BoohooMAN to Louis Vuitton. While these masks appear to be non-gendered, their design, marketing, and wearing reveal long-running narratives within menswear concerned with ideas of protection, risk, and masculinity.


The exhibition features examples from Adidas, Balenciaga, BoohooMAN, Burberry, C.P. Company, Fakescum, Ahluwalia, Liam Hodges, Mulberry, Raeburn, Christopher Kane, Master-piece, Huntsman, JW Anderson, Levi's, Liberty, Louis Vuitton, Manchester City FC, New & Lingwood, Off-White, Paul & Shark, Paul Smith, Sunspel, Turnbull & Asser, Vivienne Westwood, and WAWWA.

2021 UNDERCOVER. FROM NECESSITY TO DEBRIS: THE POLLUTION OF FACE COVERINGS DURING COVID-19

Curated by Professor Andrew Groves

 

11 May – 5 June 2021

In 2020 it was estimated that every month 129 billion face masks are used globally. The majority of which contain disposable plastic microfibres.


The photographic exhibition Undercover: from Necessity to Debris, The Pollution of Face Coverings During COVID-19, documents 365 of these discarded face coverings found and photographed in the streets during the last year. It acts as both an archive of highly disposable material culture and as a reflection on the environmental impact of our response to COVID-19. 


Strewn across rain-sodden pavements and gutters, at first glance, these masks may seem unremarkable, indistinguishable, unworthy of attention. While it is true that a face mask, even if only worn across the mouth, serves to conceal the wearer's identity, a closer look at these objects reveals clues to the lives of their previous owners.
 

Despite the absence of their former owners, each mask is haunted by the ghost of its previous wearer. As a consequence, these photographs serve as a form of absentee portraiture.   


Featuring 365 photographs taken over the last year of discarded face coverings in the street, its acts as both an archive of highly disposable material culture and as a reflection on the environmental impact of our response to COVID-19. It will be curated digitally as 365 NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) available on OpenSea, the world's largest marketplace for digital goods. During the course of the exhibition, 52 NFT items from Undercover from Necessity to Debris will be given away for free on OpenSea.

2019 INVISIBLE MEN: AN ANTHOLOGY FROM THE WESTMINSTER MENSWEAR ARCHIVE, LONDON.

Curated by Professor Andrew Groves, Dr Danielle Sprecher

 

25 October – 24 November 2019

 

Drawing exclusively from the Westminster Menswear Archive, Invisible Men covers the last 120 years of predominately British menswear through the display of over 170 garments, the majority of which have never been seen on public display. Invisible Men will the most extensive exhibition devoted to menswear to be staged in the UK.

 

Opening in October 2019, this four-week exhibition is arranged into twelve sections, presenting designer garments alongside military, functional, and utilitarian outfits. It explores the design language of menswear, which predominately focuses on the replication of repeats archetypal functional garments intended for specific industrial, technical or military use.

 

Invisible Men will illustrate how designers have disrupted these conventions through minimal, yet significant modifications to produce outcomes that both replicate and subvert their source material. Through this approach, the language of menswear has developed an almost fetishistic appreciation of the working man in all his heroic iterations, referencing the clothing of seafarers, soldiers, athletes, firefighters, road workers, and explorers. 

 

The endless replication, appropriation and interpretation within menswear has meant that the meaning and function of the original archetypes has faded through each reiteration.

 

This design strategy has, for the most part, allowed men and what they wear to avoid scrutiny: these garments have remained invisible within fashion exhibitions in favour of presenting menswear largely as the story of the dandy or the peacock male.

 

This exhibition aims to shine a light on these invisible men.

2017   THE VANISHING ART OF CAMOUFLAGE 
LONDON GALLERY WEST, LONDON
Professor Andrew Groves The Vanishing Art of Camouflage

Against a contemporary backdrop of ceaseless military action, camouflage has been adopted by civilians as a ubiquitous pattern of our lives, adorning runways, sportswear, skateboards, toilet papers and even condoms.

 

Used for its striking designs, its ‘patterned disorder’ and its symbolism, the exhibition explores its artistic, fashionable and political use as a strategic and aspirational means to make the visible invisible, and paradoxically the unseen seen.

 

Using examples that illustrate the development of camouflage from its early military beginnings at the turn of the twentieth century through its varied relationships with artists and designers, the exhibition incorporates still imagery and film to examine the stylistic, sociological, and political context; analysing its ubiquitous appropriation – from fashion to art to architecture.

 

Featuring a range of historical military garments alongside their adaptive high-end fashion versions, the exhibition also includes a selection of unusual artefacts that have adapted camouflage for their own means, and questions the neutrality of blending in as a means of survival.

 

The Vanishing Art of Camouflage is the first exhibition to draw extensively from the newly created Westminster Menswear Archive. The archive has been founded for the purpose of establishing a collection of garments and related artefacts to encourage and develop the study of menswear design from a technical and functional point of view. The archive is also intended to advance the general knowledge of menswear as a design discipline, and to be used as a resource tool to inform contemporary menswear design. 

2016   ARCHETYPES
LONDON GALLERY WEST, LONDON

The exhibition explores the role played by archetypal garments in the modern fashion design process, explaining their sociological, political and stylistic contexts, and their re-appropriation; both as items of clothing and as pieces of functional design in their own right.

 

Six archetypal garments are featured; a Duffle Coat, a Denim Jacket, a Leather Biker, a Military Field Jacket, an MA1 Flying Jacket and a Trench Coat. Each has a rich history, borne from a function, appropriated by fashion and subculture and constantly reinvented for the fashion market.

 

Alongside each of the original archetypes are the outcomes of the study of those garments by students at the University. Moving imagery locates them in an expanded visual and historic context, including catwalk footage and film extracts, intercut with additional research imagery and student portfolio work.

OTHER EXHIBITIONS

2017     The Overworked Body: An Anthology Of 2000s Dress, Goethe-Institut, New York
2014     Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!, Somerset House, London
2013     ICA Off-Site: A Journey Through London Subculture: 1980s To Now
2013     PAPER #7 'Performing Paper', Paper Gallery, Manchester
2013     Hurray! – MoBA 13, Arnhem, Netherlands
2013     Dark Florals, Rapid Response exhibition, The Fashion Museum, Bath
2010     Fashionably Curious - Linley Sambourne House, London
2009     Chris Moore - 25 Years of British Fashion, Somerset House, London
2008     Denim – The Fabric of Our Lives, The Hub. Sleaford, England
2001     London Fashion Week – Catwalk presentations, London
2000     Hong Kong Fashion Week – Catwalk show, Hong Kong
2000     London Fashion Week – Catwalk presentations, London
1999     New British Design - The Mall, London
1999     London Fashion Week – Catwalk presentations, London
1999     British Fashion Exhibition - Design Museum, London
1999     New British Fashion – Islington Design Centre, London
1998     London Fashion Week – Catwalk presentations, London
1998     Design Week Exhibition – Fashion Installation, London
1997     London Fashion Week – Catwalk presentations, London
1996     Street Style Exhibition – Victoria & Albert Museum, London
1996     Street Style Exhibition – Moda Florence, Italy