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Clothing as art explored in university film

— June 2012

Associated media

Film still from Block Party ©DMU. Block Party is being shown at Leicester's New Walk Museum & Art Gallery

Garments that cross the boundary into art feature in a film created by a De Montfort University (DMU) lecturer and six of the university’s fashion students.

The film, commissioned to celebrate an exhibition of creative tailoring at Leicester’s New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, was directed by fashion lecturer Jo Cope and features the work of BA (Hons) Fashion Design students Beatrice Mabvuto, Yasemin Chin, Kira Parsons, Amy Crofts, Sophie Binns and Francesca Halligan.

The students worked with Jo and her colleague Amber Brierley to develop their designs, resulting in unique, thought provoking pieces.
Jo, who is a conceptual fashion designer, said:

I worked with the students to explore how their final fashion garments can cross over into art to be an inspiring means of visual communication.Each of them showed a new and inspired perspective on pattern cutting that I felt would offer an exciting contribution to the film and which would also complement the work featured in the exhibition.

The film consists of six separate pieces, each focusing on a different student’s work, and was directed by Jo and shot and cut by Sally Hossack, a DMU video lecturer and freelance video artist who has worked with Jo on previous conceptual video projects.

The film was commissioned by New Walk Museum and Art Gallery and has been funded by Arts Council England.

In March, Jo took the students to visit the first leg of the touring exhibition at Bury St Edmonds. They were able to gain inspiration and to discuss their initial ideas with New Walk Museum and Art Gallery’s exhibition officer, Hugo Worthy, and its learning officer, Lisa Jacques, as a starting point for each of their own experiments. Jo added:

The students have created their own concepts inspired by the main aspects being explored by artists in the show. Their work is a diverse and interesting portrayal of stories and unique ways of cutting.

The film will be displayed at the exhibition on a series of iPads alongside Jo’s new conceptual fashion installation, which includes a life-size ‘emerging body sculpture’ using traditional hand wood carving craft, to reference and fuse old millinery blocking techniques of forming fabric with aspects of flat pattern cutting.

Block Party: Contemporary Craft Inspired by the Art of the Tailor features artists who push pattern cutting beyond the garment. It can be seen at the museum from 16 June to 2 September and admission is free.

Curated by visual artist Lucy Orta, in partnership with the Crafts Council, Block Party reveals the contemporary applications and creative possibilities of pattern cutting.

The exhibition features work by 16 practitioners for whom pattern cutting forms the basis of their practice, yet whose output results not only in garments, but a variety of innovative forms. Works reveal the tradition, history and skills of the pattern cutter and tailor, in a variety of contemporary media.

For more information, please visit
Jo’s most recent work was a transforming leather and carbon fibre dress, inspired by the aerodynamics of F1 cars, for Silverstone racetrack.
For more information about her work, visit

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