Museum of Brisbane

The question Dress Code asks us…

When we get dressed in the morning, most of us don’t spend too much time thinking about about why we wear what we wear, where it comes from and what it says about us.

For Hannah Gartside, Gerwyn Davies, Lisa Hilli, Emily McGuire and Grace Lillian Lee, fashion and making is under constant investigation. These five early career creatives come from diverse artistic backgrounds and their works feature in Dress Code at Museum of Brisbane (3 Nov 2018 – 28 Jan 2019).

Hannah and Emily draw on their technical fashion backgrounds to construct textile-based works that examine fashion consumption. Grace collaborates with communities, using traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander weaving techniques to create wearable pieces in the space between fashion, craft and art. Lisa’s visual art practice draws on archival research into her Papua New Guinean heritage, while Gerwyn constructs his own sets and costumes to feature in his over-the-top self portraits.

Dress Code also reflects themes in our concurrent exhibition The Designers’ Guide: Easton Pearson Archive (23 Nov 2018 – 22 Apr 2019), such as slow fashion, labour, collaboration, fashion in a global market place, who makes our clothes and why we wear what we wear.

Dress Code invites conversations around these themes from the perspective of a new generation of creatives. The artworks are a direct reaction to the current global milieu of fast fashion, postcolonial identity, consumer culture and social media.

The most exciting thing about this show is that each artist takes an individual and contemporary approach to body adornment. Some use humour, some revive traditional techniques, but fundamentally each artist explores how adornment can express heritage, colonial histories, sexual and gender identity, or regional identity. These are topics that touch all of us, whether we are aware of it or not.

Behind the bizarre beauty, the whacky costumes and leopard print fabrics in Dress Code, there’s a depth to the works that asks us to consider how what we wear shapes us.


Miranda Hine

Image: Hannah Gartside, Sophia as a herald (2017). Digital Photo.