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Materials Speak Dharma Taylor

Reading Group Entangled Threads: Revisiting the Clothes, Cloth & Culture Group

10 Apr 2024

Join us to explore the legacy of the CCCG, reinterpreting Stuart Hall’s writings in the context of contemporary fashion, textiles, and fibre arts studies.

2024 marks the 10-year anniversary of the Clothes, Cloth and Culture Group at the Stuart Hall Library. “Entangled Threads: Revisiting the Clothes, Cloth & Culture Group,” a collaboration between iniva, the V&A, and CREATURE (The Research Centre for Creature Arts, Cultures, and Engagement) at London Metropolitan University, draws on the legacy of the CCCG, reinterpreting Stuart Hall’s writings in the context of contemporary fashion, textiles, and fibre arts studies.

“Entangled Threads” asks: how are today’s cross-cultural entanglements and intersectional identities explored, performed, and interpreted through clothes and cloth? How might we understand Hall’s notion of ‘becoming,’ as outlined in the essay “Cultural Identity and Diaspora,” post-2020? How is this notion being expressed through clothes and cloth? The reading group will commence with invited speakers introducing their perspectives to enrich our collective reflection on how these questions might unfold in the present context.

  • Renata Brenha (Designer)
  • Michael McMillan (Writer)
  • Anya Paintsil (Artist)
  • Péjú Oshin (Curator)
  • Anushka Tay (Artist)

This will be followed by discussions revisiting the framework of Hall’s notion of identity as a process of becoming in the context of clothes and cloth. In preparation of the event, participants are encouraged to read in advance Stuart Hall’s (1997) Cultural Identity and Diaspora.

This reading group takes place during the exhibition Materials Speak, which is on display in Stuart Hall Library until 26 April 2024.

Moderator biographies

Christine Checinska, Ph.D., a British artist, designer, curator, storyteller. Her work explores the relationship between cloth, culture, and race. She is Senior Curator Africa and Diaspora: Textiles and Fashion. She is the Lead Curator of landmark exhibition Africa Fashion (2022) at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, now touring the world. She is editor of and contributor to Africa Fashion (2022). Her TEDxTalk, Disobedient Dress: Fashion as Everyday Activism (2016) examines the fascinating cultural exchanges that occur beyond borders as a result of movement and migration expressed through the clothes we wear, the objects we collect and the art that we make. She is also a Research Associate at the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD), University of Johannesburg.

Wessie Ling, Ph.D., a Professor of Transcultural Arts and Design at London Metropolitan University where she directs The Research Centre for Creative Arts, Cultures and Engagement (CREATURE). She is interested in cultural production and economy of fashion, in particular, the expression of an identity when producing fashion, its relation to the transcultural locality and the tension within and outside of the fashion system in which it is produced. She has co-edited the book Fashion in Multiple Chinas: Chinese Styles in the Transglobal Landscape, and the special issues on Italianerie: Transculturality, co-creation and transforming identities between Italy and Asia for Modern Italy, Global Fashion for Zone Moda Journal, and Global China for Fashion Theory.

Nicholas Brown, a librarian and doctoral candidate researching Black British artists and print culture, with particular attention to independent magazine publishing. His research examines how magazines produced by and about Black artists and writers in the 20th century functioned as key sites of contestation, fostering new positions and understandings of how visual arts intersect with issues of race, class, gender, sexuality and the legacies of colonialism. He has managed libraries and archives including the Stuart Hall Library at iniva.

Speaker biographies

Renata Brenha, a London-based Brazilian womenswear designer with an MA in fashion from the Royal College of Art (2018) and a postgraduate diploma from Central Saint Martins (2016). Founded in 2019, her eponymous brand reframes the place of women and Latin America in contemporary fashion, based on a sustainability proposal and the reuse of resources with a strong artisanal vein. Her brand is sold in luxury stores globally, in countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, the United States, Japan and South Korea. She is the semi-finalist for the Latin American Fashion Awards 2023 in the emerging talent category.

Michael McMillan, a British born writer, playwright, artist/curator and scholar of Vincentian parentage. He guest curated the critically acclaimed The West Indian Front Room exhibition at the Geffrye Museum (2005-06), which was also iterated in Tate Britain’s Life Between Islands (2021-22) and is now a permanent 1970s period room at the Museum of the Home (formerly the Geffrye Museum). He was also chief consultant on the popular BBC4 documentary Tales from the Front Room (2007). Author of The Front Room: Migrant Aesthetics in the Home (2009), he has written many books, plays and articles on arts and culture, and teaches at the University of the Arts London.

Anya Paintsil, London-based textile artist of Welsh and Ghanaian heritage. Her practice combines traditional hand rug making techniques with afro hair styling methods to explore identity, gendered labour seeking to promote artistic practices historically devalued due to their associations with femininity and other marginalised groups. Recent acquisitions of her work include Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, The National Museum of Wales, The Whitworth Gallery, Manchester and The Women’s Art Collection at Cambridge University. She was awarded the prestigious Wakelin Award in 2020. Her work is featured at exhibitions at The Whitworth Gallery Manchester, The Craft Council Gallery, London and at Arnolfini, Bristol.

Péjú Oshin, a British-Nigerian curator, writer, and lecturer working with young and emerging visual artists from the African diaspora. Sitting at the intersection of art, style, and culture, her work shows a keen interest in liminal theory and diasporic narratives. She is associate director at Gagosian, London, and curator of Rites of Passage the exhibition featuring work by nineteen contemporary artists who shared a history of migration. Her book, Between Words & Space (2021), a collection of poetry and prose, was shortlisted for the Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe list.

Anushka Tay, a London-based artist and researcher interested in the ways that bodies move through space. Her research examines the ways in which clothing and dress impact the formation of diasporan ethnic and cultural identity, using a range of qualitative research methods. She is in the final year of a Techne-AHRC doctoral study on the role of dress in the articulation of British Chinese identity. She is an associate lecturer at London College of Fashion.

Image credit: One-dollar dress, 2007, WESSIELING. Photo: Paul Burroughs