Friday 12 April 2024

Folklore & Costume: Pictures From Making More Mischief

Making More Mischief is an exhbition of folk costume that's currently on at the London College of Fashion's building on the bank of the River Lea in East London. It shows the variety of folk costumes in Britain, and explores the reasons people create them, wear them, and use them to perform traditional and annual customs. 

I visited and took the pictures you can see on this post. All but the buttons are from the main gallery, which displays a variety of folkloric costumes I expect most of my blog readers will recognise, including those from Morris dancing, Jack-in-the-Green parades, Pearly Kings and Queens, Swan Upping, the Mari Lwyd and Beltane festivals. Some are perhaps less well known, such as the Hackney Clown Service and Bridport Hat Festival. 

That's only a tiny part of the exhibition as a whole. It continues elsewhere in the building. Behind the cafe there's a film on a loop showing footage from London's Chinese New Year celebrations, the Notting Hill Carnival and the Ottery St Mary custom of carrying burning tar barrels, among other things. Downstairs is a room dedicated to Somali wedding traditions with a display of the brightly coloured fabrics worn and used as wall hangings. 

Further downstairs is a gallery showing the history of button-making along the Thames, and various uses buttons have been put to over the years, including contemporary art installations by LCF students. In the foyer a pink booth aims to show the crossover between contemporary nightlife and folk costume. It houses a film and costumes showcasing Pxssy Palace - an arts platform celebrating black, indigenous and people of colour who are women, queer, intersex, trans or non-binary.

If that's not enough, a free map and downloadable audioguide offer a walk around Hackney, Stratford and Bow showing sights of folkloric interest along the way. I'm planning to do that another day and will blog when I've done so.

Making More Mischief: Folk Costume in Britain was conceived by the Museum of British Folklore and has been designed by Simon Costin. It runs until 22 June at  LCF East Bank, 105 Carpenters Rd, Stratford,  London E20 2AR. The opening times are 10am to 5pm, with free entry.

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