It was a pleasure to work with the team at Manchester’s Portico Library, editing the exhibition labels for their new exhibition Fancy Pants. The exhibition presents titles from the Library’s collection alongside new artworks that examine how dress and costume’s relationships with gender, class, power and identity have always been complicated.
Artists Leonce Raphael Agbodjelou, Ruby Kirby, Lindsey Mendick and Camille Smithwick offer expressive works that explore how dress and costume connect with celebration, ritual and morality. These works are complemented by volumes from the collection including Joseph Strutt’s Complete View of the Dress and Habits of the People of England and Lucy Aikin’s Memoirs of the Court of Queen Elizabeth.
The exhibition also remembers the enormously popular Manchester Music Festival of 1836, which came to a close with a fancy dress ball so grand a temporary structure was built to connect The Portico Library with the nearby Assembly Rooms and Theatre Royal.