Opulence to Ashes: An exploration into the gendered marketing of the tobacco industry

Alicia Curran, Deale Fisher, Eden Parsley and Scarlett Swinnerton have curated an exhibition reflecting on the relationship between gender identity and the marketing of tobacco in their second-year project for the BA History of Art and Design module  ‘Understanding Exhibitions and Creating Displays’.

Opulence to Ashes is an exhibition, recently curated using archived materials from the University of Brighton’s Design Archives, now open in the foyer of St Peter’s House Library. This exhibition delves into the intriguing topic of gendered marketing within the tobacco industry and explores how marketing strategies have targeted specific gender identities and influenced consumer behaviour. Opulence to Ashes examines the utilisation of imagery, colours, and messaging that have traditionally reinforced gender stereotypes. By analysing these aspects, the exhibition prompts visitors to question the underlying messages and consider the broader implications.

The focus of this exhibition is on examining the ways in which the tobacco industry has targeted specific gender identities through their marketing strategies. Delving into the use of imagery, colours, and messaging that have traditionally reinforced gender stereotypes and influenced consumer behaviour. It looks at how cigarettes were initially marketed as symbols of masculinity, often with rugged cowboys and suave gentlemen being used to promote various brands. On the other hand, certain cigarette brands were specifically targeted towards women, employing feminine aesthetics and associations with elegance and sophistication. Opulence to Ashes brings you their own discovered cigarette brand: High Kings.

Seen below is an image of two reconstructed High Kings cigarette packages alongside the gender strategised, and targeted, design brief. The team chose the Olive Green packaging as in the brief this colour is explained as targeted at females and the Opulence to Ashes team want to allow the chance for any attendees to this exhibition to refer to this in the feedback. Boxes of this particular branded cigarette were also enhanced to appear either lighter in colour or more golden than those targeted at men.

As the exhibition progresses, it highlights the impact of gendered marketing on individuals and society. It examines the ways in which these marketing tactics have reinforced harmful gender norms and perpetuated inequality. As well as offering insight through the dissection of advertisement and promotional materials, present amongst the exhibition materials is the High Kings design brief that associates colours with certain age groups and genders. When creating this exhibition, with a target audience of university students and academic professionals in mind, the Opulence to Ashes team approached the advertisement of this exhibition with huge creative intention.

Seen below is a poster created by the team to advertise the exhibition. The playful use of a propaganda style poster is an effective strategy being used here when considered alongside the fact that there is a high likeliness that members of the target audience will be provoked by the look of the poster furthermore intrigued.

 

Looking at the intended audience and recognising that the ages of many people attending our exhibition would be anywhere from 18 to mid-late twenties, we understood that social media would be one of the most useful tools in advertising our exhibition as well as building our brand aesthetic and continuity to the exhibition pieces. Instagram being our chosen form of representation and advertising for the exhibition allowed for the aesthetic of Opulence to Ashes to be appointed prior to the exhibition.

Something Old, Something New: The Influence of the White Wedding in Popular Culture

Emily Hetherington, Neve Lloyd Owen, Maizie Hegarty-Woods Alexandra Laveglia and Maddison Brathwaite – Richards review the significance of the wedding dress in their second-year exhibition project for the BA History of Art and Design module  ‘Understanding Exhibitions and Creating Displays’.

‘Something Old and Something New’, Exhibition View, 2023

Something Old and Something New is a new exhibition looking at wedding traditions through different pop culture moments and how people have gone against them. What is thought as one of the oldest wedding traditions, the white wedding dress, popularised by Queen Victoria, was promoted through media and magazines that made people believe that wedding dresses were always white. For many, white wedding dresses show a fairy tale ending for them, not unlike the ones seen in Disney’s Cinderella. For some Christians a white wedding dress shows the end of innocence and purity of a child into adulthood as a stepping into a new stage of life. In the Global North the white wedding dresses is so integral to our image of weddings that it has bled into the Global South, with many people opting to having a white dress in some capacity alongside their own traditions. One of the many ways the tradition has leaked into different cultures is through televised royal weddings, such as the 1981 marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, watched by 750 million people in 74 countries, which was a major pop culture moment of the 1980s. So, the exhibition here starts with a wedding dress from 1984 designed by Patricia Miller that is stylistically inspired by Diana’s own wedding dress, from the University’s own teaching dress collection. This dress is our launching point for looking at how bridal traditions are upheld, subverted or broken within Western pop culture.

Installing a wedding dress (1984) from the University of Brighton Dress History Teaching Collection

The rhyme that gives the name of the exhibition comes from “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” links to wedding traditions. The rhyme dates to about to the 19th century in the British Ilses and has been part of weddings for almost the same amount of time, as it is said to help the wedding go smoothly for the bride. Many pop culture weddings follow this tradition but many don’t. An example of a wedding not following the normal traditions was Bianca and Mick Jagger’s weddings in 1971. Bianca Jagger wore trousers to this wedding which broke standards of what we saw with celebrity weddings and since then there have been examples of women opting for trousers as their bridal dress, especially with the rise of LGBTQIA+ weddings. In this way we can see how something new can become something old in a short amount of time.

Display case, ‘Something Old and Something New’

Ultimately, through this new exhibition we want people leave with an understanding of how tradition is invented, through examining weddings. As the British social scientist and geographer Doreen Massey writes, tradition is seen through nostalgia, something that we need to maintain, or it will be lost. White weddings and all we expect from them comes from our understanding of what we have seen whether that be from pop culture or from our personal experiences of weddings, ideas that can hopefully be seen in this new display on the second floor of Mithras House, next to the Hellerup stairs.

Curated by Emily Hetherington, Neve Lloyd Owen, Maizie Hegarty-Woods Alexandra Laveglia and Maddison Brathwaite – Richards.

Reorienting the Orient

Annie Wright, Grace Dowle, Megan Glass, Avery Chamberlain and Eden Cronin have curated an exhibition reflecting on the connection between objects associated with the idea of ‘the Orient’ and the social construction of cultural difference within British society in their second-year project for the BA History of Art and Design module  ‘Understanding Exhibitions and Creating Displays’.

Reorienting the Orient: Upcycling as a Cross Cultural Practice, Mithras House, 6th Dec 2023

Reorienting the Orient is an exhibition that aims to explore the narratives and aims of cross-cultural consumption and the repurposing of cultural garments for alternative uses in the west. Ideas surrounding where these garments were intended to be worn are contrasted between systems of international export and local trading, which allows for an interesting comparison in the usage of oriental clothing in Britain.

Orientalism, a term coined by Edward W. Said, describes the western construction of ‘the Orient’ as a place of mysticism and exoticism and reflects Britain’s imperial relations with Asia. Britain’s connections to the Orient have influenced popular fashion trends in many ways through the years. Reorienting the Orient documents multiple examples of the dissemination of imported Oriental goods into British society, whilst also providing context behind specific examples.

The exhibition features two main pieces, selected from the Dress History Teaching Collection. The first, a skirt most likely handcrafted by the Rabari, a nomadic tribe indigenous to the Kutch district of Northern India. Despite initially being thought to be from the Rajasthan state of India, research suggests the bright embroidered motifs of peacocks and mango trees to be that of Rabari craft. This skirt would have been created for local consumption within the Kutch district, but was brought to Brighton by John Gillow amidst the British fascination with Indian culture during the 1960’s.

Reorienting the Orient: Upcycling as a Cross Cultural Practice, Mithras House, 6th Dec 2023

The second garment from the same collection is a Cantonese shawl, dating anywhere from the late 19th to early 20th century. Also being known as ‘Manila Shawls’ and ‘Manton de Manila’, these fabrics were most often made of silk and featured the Yue embroidery that is native to the Canton region. Patterns on these shawls often include scenes from nature and mythical creatures. This specific example features embroidered motifs of foliage on cream silk, with a border of fringe encasing the design. In contrast to the Rabari skirt, these Cantonese shawls would have been made specifically for western use. The consumption of these garments in Europe would ultimately lead to the commissioning of western cultural emblems to be embroidered on them, and the chartering of trade companies designed to import these products to various European nations.

Reorienting the Orient: Upcycling as a Cross Cultural Practice, Mithras House, 6th Dec 2023

Although both of these pieces show the significance of orientalist clothing in Britain in both the 19th and 20th centuries, ‘Reorienting the Orient’ also displays evidence of orientalism as an ongoing practice. This is shown through the exhibiting of two recent examples, purchased by the curators locally, in the Brighton lanes. Displayed on a mannequin alongside the Rabari skirt is a long sleeve cropped blouse in a rich maroon colour. The pattern featured on the garment shows clear inspiration from South Asian clothing and shows how cultural items from the Orient may have been understood and worn in a westernised context. Alongside the Cantonese shawl, a small toiletry case is displayed, which features designs and motifs that are heavily east-Asian inspired. Despite a lack of information on this piece, the purpose can be assumed to be that of western consumption, with copies of this very product being found on selling sites such as eBay.

Throughout Reorienting the Orient, the idea of a difference in production and consumption remains constant, with comparisons between the intended purposes, trade routes and the adopting of the exhibited garments into western society.

The exhibition, curated by Annie Wright, Grace Dowle, Megan Glass, Avery Chamberlain and Eden Cronin, is now available for viewing on the second floor of Mithras House (top of the Hellerup stairs).

Congratulations to the Design History Society Ambassador

Recent graduate Rowan Adamson reflects on her degree in History of Design and Material Culture as a springboard for her role as a new Ambassador for the prestigious Design History Society, the leading organisation that promotes and supports the study of design histories, both in the UK and internationally.

After graduating with my master’s degree in the ‘History of Design and Material Culture’ from the University of Brighton in February 2023, I am pleased to announce my appointment as ‘Ambassador’ for the Design History Society. The DHS is the leading organisation that promotes and supports the study of design histories, both in the UK and internationally. My role will be to promote the DHS through engaging content (primarily through the Blog – including reviews, reports, interviews, thought pieces, visual essays etc) and updating social media channels, as well as organising an event for post-graduate/early career researchers and students to engage with the society in an informal and casual setting.

In addition to my master’s degree, I hold an undergraduate degree in ‘Textile Design’ from Gray’s School of Art (Robert Gordon University) in Aberdeen. Grounded in design and craft principles, my educational background has been instrumental in informing my research with a particular focus on utilising the archive through the lens of creative methods and making practices. Making the transition from a practical studio based undergraduate to an academically challenging and theory led post-graduate forced me to reassess my research methods and led to a deeper understanding of object theory, exhibition design and museum processes. For my master’s dissertation, titled “Memory, Materiality, and the Collection: Exploring the relationship between object and artist within contemporary art and craft,” I delved into creative practices involving found objects and archival material as a tool for inspiration and exploration, interviewing 3 artists/designers and analysing their methods. My research interests span a range of topics, including but not limited to the materiality of the archive, the memory of objects, and Scottish textile design and craft histories.

I loved my master’s degree, and credit the department of History of Art and Design and the Centre for Design History for such an encouraging environment in to learn and question our subject, especially through workshops and seminars along with the excellent staff and my fellow master’s students. With this encouragement I am actively pursuing a career within the arts/museum sector and have recently relocated from Brighton back to Glasgow, where I am continuing my pursuits in the field. The Design History Society allows me the opportunity to stay up to date on the ongoing discourse in Design History, and this engagement serves as a valuable resource as I explore potential avenues for further study and career opportunities.

We are looking for an additional Ambassador to join me; it is an excellent opportunity to be involved with Design History and network with other academics and researchers. Open to anyone with an interest in Design History, please see the ‘Vacancies’ page on the DHS website, or alternatively please email me at radamson15@gmail.com to discuss this further.

https://www.designhistorysociety.org/about/vacancies

https://www.designhistorysociety.org/news/view/welcome-to-our-new-ambassador

 

 

Students’ work on display at Brighton & Hove Museums

Brighton Museum and Art Gallery have opened a new display that features work from MA Curating Collections and Heritage students

“DO NOT TOUCH!!!!” is a display of student posters that all try to challenge the classic signage in museums that ask visitors not to touch the collections. It is on at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery over the next few months.

Caring for Collections and their Users

 

Museum visitors often report feeling out of place or self-conscious in museums, and signage and instructions that dictate how visitors should behave are often part of the alienation and embarrassment that prevents some people from enjoying museums.

Classic signage that MA Curating students hope to avoid

Students on the module ‘Caring for Collections and their Users’ try to take a different approach. As part of their assessment they are challenged to present complex conservation information about caring for objects to museum audiences in an accessible and engaging way. Students can choose to produce a poster that encourages visitors to not to touch, or they can opt to design a set of child-friendly instructions for the safe handling of a mixed range of objects in a schools handling box. Their designs are informed the debates around access, learning, collections research, preventative conservation and audience development that are covered on the module.

Working with Brighton & Hove Museums

 

Each year, students on the MA Curating benefit from conservation workshops run by staff from Brighton & Hove Museums. This year, our long-term relationship with Gaye Conley, Head of Conservation, has led to an invitation to our students to display their posters. Gaye writes

I have wanted to display the students’ work for several years. It’s rewarding to see the outcome of the talks we have undertaken with the students, and it will be fascinating to watch the public engage with the students’ work.

Student posters on display at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery

Student Success

 

In the space available, Brighton & Hove Museum staff chose three posters produced in recent years. Ellie Bedford designed ‘Museum in a Box!’ to support a school session to help children safely handle objects; Paige Franklin designed ‘Look at Me!’ for an art and design gallery that has fragile objects on open display, and Elliot Thorn produced ‘Vase on a Plinth’ to help people see the consequences of touch, and what might happen if they bring food into the gallery. All of the posters use bold graphics and clear text to encourage visitors to feel welcome in the museum, and informed about how to care for our shared heritage.

Ellie writes,

The poster design was a fun challenge! I enjoyed bringing together all of the curating skills and academic theories that we had learnt, and applying them to a practical task. It’s very rewarding seeing it in print!

‘Museum in a Box!’, Ellie Bedford, 2022

 

‘Look at Me!’, Paige Franklin, 2023

Elliot writes,

Designing the poster was a fun experience. It was a challenge to figure out how to convey meaning without written language. One of my aims was to make the poster accessible to people whose first language wasn’t English, so clear visual storytelling was important. Overall, I’m happy with the end result!

 

‘Vase on a Plinth’, Elliot Thorn, 2022

 

Their university and museum tutors couldn’t be prouder! Congratulations all!

 

 

 

Student Work Placement: Amberley Museum

MA Curating Collections and Heritage student Ellie Bedford takes a moment out of her wide-ranging and dynamic placement at Amberly Museum to reflect on lessons learnt

Amberley Museum is a large 32-acre industrial heritage open air museum in Sussex, housed in the former chalk pits and lime burning business of Pepper and Sons. As well as telling the story of Pepper and Sons, it is also home to collections ranging from road building and narrow-gauge railways to TV and radio, as well as original period buildings. The curator, John Betts, says it is like being the curator of several museums, not one, and after six months of my placement I can’t help but agree.

With such a large and varied collection, spread across a huge site, John has an abundance of work to maintain, audit and care for the collections. This has the benefit of giving me the opportunity to take part in many interesting tasks. I’m here as a volunteer curatorial assistant, as part of a 150-hour placement module for the MA Curating Collections and Heritage at Brighton.

As I near the end of my placement, I have been reflecting on the experience I have gained in so many areas of museum curation. As well as learning to ride vintage bikes (a perk of the job), I have been able to take part in collections auditing, digitizing record cards, conservation cleaning of objects, writing environmental reports, researching and writing interpretation for displays and online exhibitions and integrated pest management.

I am always surprised by the variety and sometimes unexpected tasks involved with working in collections. Each day is unique and there is always something new to do. But a key insight I have come to is in understanding how interconnected museum tasks are. When we learn about auditing, integrated pest management or how to interpret objects, it is easy to think of these tasks as distinct aspects of museum work. During my placement, however, I have seen that these tasks are interlinked, interdependent, and that work on one task can affect how you approach another.

For example, one of the first projects I worked on at Amberley Museum was assisting John with an audit of the TV and radio gallery.  As part of the audit, we physically checked each item (which sometimes was quite the logistical challenge), as well as the corresponding object record card and accession details and worked to fill in any gaps in the information we had. We also started to scan and digitize the object record cards.

John auditing the TV collection!

Having accessible digital records allows us to better understand exactly what is in the collection, as items of interest can be “lost” when part of a large collection such as is present in Amberley. Most of the record cards have photographs on them, which helps us to identify objects.

Once we had a clear picture of what was in the collection and its condition, we were able to develop a better integrated pest management system to help preserve it, and to put in place a programme of preventative conservation. The design of these conservation systems depends on the information gathered at an audit. The auditing process also facilitates research into the collection, and can help when applying for funding bids, as it is easier to show why the funds are needed, and how they will benefit the collection. So an audit of objects in the museum can provide direction for other related tasks. As an added benefit, I found that digitizing the record cards helped me to familiarize myself with the collections.

Another project I have worked on that highlights the value of Amberley Museum’s collections is the Hidden Innovators project. Hidden Innovators is an ongoing project to highlight the contribution of women and people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds to telecommunications, amateur radio, technology, and engineering. I have been tasked with researching and writing about the seventh person to be highlighted: Nell Corry. Nell was a record-breaking early 20th century amateur radio enthusiast who made important contributions to the development of radio technology.

Amberley Museum has her archive, which includes logbooks, newspaper clippings and QSL cards (a type of post card to confirm radiocommunications, which were unique to each enthusiast). As part of my research, I have been preparing Nell’s archive for long term storage in acid-free archival sleeves and storage boxes, as well as reading these primary records to inform my write up of her work on radio. This research of primary documents can be very valuable. In fact, when John was researching the collections to prepare another Hidden Innovators entry, he discovered that Nell Corry’s Morse key was in our collection.

 Nell Corry’s Morse Key

 Archiving QSL cards for long-term storage

An example of a witty QSL card

Researching Nell’s story has shown me yet again how interconnected the various tasks in museum curation are. The need to tell a new story necessitated a re-examination and re-evaluation of existing collections, which in turn led to new connections and understanding from objects that had already been accessioned.

So stay tuned, Nell’s story will go live soon. And after that, there will be another interesting and unique, and potentially quite unexpected task awaiting me at Amberley Museum.

 

Hidden Innovators

 

New Student Exhibition: From Disney to ‘Disneyfication’

BA Art History and Visual Culture and BA Fashion and Dress History students Vasilii Bruni, Albert Holloway, Niamh Carden, Olivia Ratcliffe and Camille Scribner announce their new exhibition, now on display at Pavilion Parade at the University of Brighton

From Disney to ‘Disneyfication’ is an exhibition curated to highlight how Disney established a multi-media monopoly, from its humble beginnings in the 1920s to the global franchise it is today. It considers the impact of ‘Disneyfication’ on materials from theme parks brochures to Mickey Mouse illustrations.

From Disney to Disneyfication display case

Disney as a franchise is at the forefront of rapid Western globalisation, a huge part of twentieth-century media consumption. It has been catapulted into an advertisement empire by the consumerist lifestyle of the 21st century. Our aim with this exhibition is to illustrate the narrative of Disney as a company and its undeniable influence on the Western mass market.

The term ‘Disneyfication’ comes from the field of sociology, meaning:

the homogenization of entertainment into something simplified, controlled and “safe” – reminiscent of the Walt Disney Brand.”

The exhibition includes artefacts produced pre-Disneyfication and post-Disneyfication, including a Mickey Mouse annual from the 1930s and a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-inspired dental hygiene advertisement to encompass the commercialisation and distribution of entertainment through different media.

The exhibit also aims to highlight the sanitisation of mainstream media, championed by mega corporations. It features artefacts from the Marvel and Star Wars franchises showcasing their previous merchandise before their standardised “safer” format that is recognisable as being a product of the Walt Disney Company.

Although we want to call attention to the monopoly Disney has on mega media franchises, we also want to celebrate the universal affiliation with its well-known fictional characters and universes. Disney has been a household name for generations, so we chose items that were recognisable and familiar to all, from casual fans to cult followers. We wanted to ensure that all visitors will have at least one memory they can fondly recall when looking at our display.

Since my childhood, Disney has always been a factor in the media I consume, like the movies I would watch and the books I would’ve read. It is an integral part of lots of people’s childhoods and even going into many of our adult lives, especially now as they branch out and own media such as Star Wars, which is something that I still watch and enjoy. It’s interesting to see how it has changed and developed to appeal to a wider audience and this is why I think it’s a highly interesting topic to base our exhibition upon”, Olivia Ratcliffe, Group Researcher

Starting the 13th of December 2022 students and staff of the University of Brighton will be able to visit the exhibition at the Pavilion Parade building located in the City Campus.

Poster for From Disney to Disneyfication

 

New Student Exhibition – Alison Settle: An Observation

BA Art History and Visual Culture students Lori Bennallick, Ellie-Mae Carter, Romina Valerio Martinez and Holly Owen announce their new exhibition, now on display at Pavilion Parade at the University of Brighton

Alison Settle: An Observation is an exhibition curated to highlight Alison Settle’s importance in fashion journalism and to celebrate her journey as a great influence in the fashion industry. In this exhibition, you will find newspaper cut outs from The Observer, which inform us of Settle’s achievements. There are also digital portraits and a mimic response of one of her potential outfits. Furthermore, the exhibition will include a copy of the famous book “The Clothesline” by Alison Settle, which includes a range of information about her role in the fashion industry and as editor of British Vogue. This curated collection will be a homage to her career as a journalist. Alison Settle became a significant link in fashion between Britain and France. High-end fashion lines such as Schiaparelli and Balmain have described Alison Settle as “The Queen” or “La Reine”.

A dress from the University of Brighton’s dress teaching collection, evoking the type of dress Settle would have recommended to her readers

The “Alison Settle: An Observation” exhibition will showcase from Tuesday 13 December at Pavilion Parade, where all students and members of staff will have access to attend. Pavilion Parade is located in the heart of Brighton, Old Steine. This allows easy access to students and members of staff that live nearby. This exhibition has been organised and curated by four current second-year students, Romina Valerio Martinez, Lori Bennallick, Holly Owen and Ellie-Mae Carter. The artefacts in this exhibition have been carefully picked out and placed to result in an impactful storytelling production of Alison Settle’s career.

Curator Holly Owen is certainly “so pleased with the outcome of this exhibition because women like Alison Settle should be recognised and celebrated for their achievement.” Settle was a female journalist and editor of British Vogue for over a decade, repeatedly encouraging and advising women about fashion and trends. The significance of this exhibition is to shape it as a celebration of how Alison Settle, as a woman, was able to defy gender norms within journalism.

Curator Ellie-Mae Carter sees this exhibition as “perfect for a fan of fashion” and also describes it as a “fashionable take on a prominent female journalist.” The items in the exhibition show that Alison Settle was recognised by the media and took on an important role in the fashion world.

O’Sullivan describes Alison Settle as the “Grande Dame of European Fashion”, which translates to the “Great Lady”. She was seen as a fashion journalist icon whose opinion mattered and influenced many middle-class women. Fashion magazines such Vogue were seen as very elitist and attracted a mainly a middle upper-class audience. One of Settle’s main goals for the fashion industry was to create a platform where British Vogue would become a more practical and affordable concept so that it could impact a much bigger audience.

The images below show clippings from the newspaper The Observer, where Alison Settle’s work was published. Not only was she a great influence for the fashion industry, she also raised many societal issues such as women’s rights with the power she had obtained as a journalist. As stated previously, this exhibition is not only about her celebration as a fashion icon but also as a powerful woman who was able to impact many and use her power to raise many issues and defy gender norms.

 

New Student Exhibition: Kids’ Entertainment – Nostalgia and Modernity

BA History of Art and Visual Culture students Tiffany Barron, Poppy Phelps, Olivia Heim Romero and Alfie Mancell announce their new exhibition, now on display at St Peters House Library

What memories do you have as a child? Perhaps reading a book before bed, or playing a card game with your family at Christmas time? These early childhood memories of game playing are the focus of our exhibition ‘Kids’ Entertainment – Nostalgia and Modernity’.

Bringing together items from both past and present, the exhibition aims to explore the change in childhood across a time period between the early 1800s until present day. With focus on games, nursery rhymes and books, we hope to communicate the relatively quick change that has occurred over the past 200 years. With the rise of social media, quick delivery times and speedy trend cycles, early childhood has never been more changeable. Hours spent playing board games have been replaced.

Items have been chosen in pairs in order to highlight this contrast. The modern card game UNO sits alongside the 1950’s Faraway Tree with the aim of highlighting the change of pace in card games. Having UNO accessible to play for general public adds an element of participation to allow viewers to become more engaged with the topic. Similarly, the 1969 book The Hungry Caterpillar is accompanied by its 2000’s counterpart in the form of a stuffed animal depicting the main character the Caterpillar himself. These are just a few examples of the items that are being used to create the point of the exhibition.

J.C. Sowerby and H.H. Emmerson, ‘Afternoon Tea’, London, Frederick Warne and Co, from the St Peters House Library Collection

Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, from the collection of St Peters House Library

In creating this exhibition it was also important to make it accessible for its target audience. Given the option between two university locations, it was important to choose a location that was both physically accessible and had a lot of foot fall. For that reason, the University of Brighton’s St Peters House Library was selected for its central city location and disability access.

Being located in the foyer of the University of Brighton’s St Peters House Library, we knew that our target audience would most likely be students and academic professionals. Looking at that group, the majority of our target age range would sit within their late teens and twenties. Taking this into account, it was felt that it would be useful to incorporate social media into the exhibition.

Social media is a key element in changing childhood experiences. Parents often use iPads as tools for both education and distraction in today’s modern age, an extreme change from the early 1800s and even from the early 2000s when members of the exhibition team were growing up. In having social media as part of the exhibition highlights the speed at which resources are accessible. Not only does it relate to the topic but it also makes the exhibition more accessible to those who cannot be there or struggle with reading small text labels. Through the use of QR codes attached to the items, viewers will be able to access more in-depth explanations and histories of the items should they so wish. This also means that the viewer could alter the text size on their phone should sight be an issue.

 

 

 

New Student Exhibition: HIV Positivity: Work of those Affected

BA Visual Culture students Imre Bitirim, Ruby Cumiskey, Simona Moccetti and Samantha Williams announce their new exhibition, now on display at St Peters House Library at the University of Brighton

HIV Positivity: Work of those Affected is an exhibition curated to inform and celebrate science, society and the people who have fought this horrific disease. On display there are artworks by two artists who have suffered and sadly passed away due to AIDS related illnesses, Mark Leslie and David Robilliard, as well as more pieces from the St Peters House Library Archives. As this is a powerfully emotive subject, the curators have done everything in their power to make this exhibition accessible for all and have appropriate trigger warnings when necessary.

From December 13 2022 students and staff members of Brighton University will be able to visit St Peters House Library, located on Richmond Place, for an intimate exhibition on the HIV and AIDS epidemic. This exhibition has been set up and organised by four second-year students from the Visual Culture course, Simona Moccetti, Imre Bitirim, Samantha Williams and Ruby Cumiskey.

“We felt it important to give back to this cause by raising money for World AIDS Day. To do this we have placed a charity box at Pavilion Parade and have linked relevant sites where people can donate money,” says curator Ruby Cumiskey.

HIV is still a major health issue globally, and it is thought that 38.4 million people are still living with HIV today. But thanks to science, people can live a healthy life with the correct medication, and with experimental drugs and through extensive research, five people have now been cured of HIV. But this wouldn’t be possible without charitable donations.

“Making our display inclusive and accessible was one of our main goals and we worked hard to make this possible.” Simona Moccetti, curator.

The chosen facility to display the exhibition is St Peters House Library, because it is wheelchair friendly, and has a wider range of people passing through. Within the display are QR codes, with instructions on how to use a QR code, the web address for those unable to use QR codes, and a leaflet if the person does not have a phone or access to the internet.

“These artists you see here [in the exhibit] maintained colour in their lives, although an incurable disease attempted to deprived them of such. Therefore, we felt it necessary to have the vitrine visually light and colourful, although the subject matter may be distressing. We wanted to pay homage to these artists the same way they explored their battle.” Imre Bitirim, curator.

A Tumblr page has been created to accompany the exhibition. One of the QR codes on the display will lead the viewer to the page, where they will find more photos and information of the items, film, TV and documentary recommendations that include stories and information on HIV and AIDS. On the site there are also links to pages where people can donate money to relevant causes. There is also a section where the public can post questions and comments either about the display or about personal experiences they’ve gone through.

“We have selected multiple objects from the St Peters House Library archives, as these objects contain personal experiences whist living with HIV/AIDS.” Samantha Williams, curator.

World Aids Day Poster, 1994, from the collection of St Peters House Library

The items that have been carefully chosen to go into this exhibition include a poster from 1991 that shows many different variations of the red ribbon, which is a symbol of support and solidarity for people who suffer with HIV and/or AIDS. There will be a book with personal photographs from an artist called Mark Leslie, who contracted AIDS and recorded his body going through the painful changes with photography. A book and CD by artist and poet David Robilliard, sadly another artist who suffered from the virus and unfortunately passed away, is also included. There will be an extra QR code linked to Robilliad’s spoken poetry in the display. And finally, a modern comic book about a normal person living with HIV and taking the PREP pill, is included. This comic book is informative as well as enjoyable to read and look at.

A Andrews and J Amaro, Just a Pill, 2020, from the collection of St Peters House

This exhibition aims to be a celebration of people, society and science and not a deep dive into the virus itself. It hopes to be educational, enlightening and sentimental as it has affected so many human beings in the past as well as the present. It is not a topic to be forgotten.