The exhibition has now been closed for two weeks, so our last post for the Fashioned from Nature blog is Senior Curator Edwina Ehrman’s reflection on the course and ending of the exhibition.
When an exhibition closes it provokes mixed emotions. Satisfaction with its successes and a tinge of sadness that something into which we put so much effort will soon be no more than a memory. It should also be said that it brings about a sense of lightening, knowing that new opportunities can be considered. In the case of Fashioned from Nature some of these opportunities have arisen directly from the exhibition. Part of my role now is to build on its legacy and to nurture and develop the conversations and networks which it has sparked.
The exhibition won two awards: Creative Green’s Creative Programming award and the Walpole Group’s Luxury with a Heart Award. This is awarded to ‘the luxury brand, institution or individual that has consistently dedicated themselves to making the world a better place, either through sustainable or environmental initiatives, contribution to special causes, or in using the power of their voice to speak out on behalf of others.’ The awards are a credit to the team who worked so hard to develop the exhibition and will encourage the Museum and its staff to continue to work on embedding sustainability in its practices.
The exhibition has also been successful in strengthening existing networks and developing others. We have extended our network within government, education, the fashion industry and among the many charities and NGOs working to reduce the impact of human activity on the planet, thereby amply demonstrating the power of partnerships to explore new avenues for collaboration. Personally, I am incredibly proud that the cross-party parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee investigating the sustainability of the fashion industry accepted our invitation to hold an open hearing at the V&A and that some of the questions for the morning’s expert witnesses were based on issues raised in Fashioned from Nature. The committee chose the lecture theatre for the event which made parliamentary history, as the largest audience ever to attend a committee hearing. It enabled the audience to watch the parliamentary process in a more accessible location than the Houses of Parliament and gave the members of the committee a greater insight into what we do at the V&A. The evidence gathered in the session will feed into recommendations that the Select Committee make to the Government in a major report on sustainable fashion of the past year. We hope to repeat this success with similar events this year, with the first scheduled for April. Watch the web!
As I am writing this, the exhibition is being carefully dismantled. The display tables which were made from recycled flax are being recycled again and will find a new home at a hemp farm. The gravel, glass chips and resin screens are being utilised in a school re-landscaping project and the terrariums are also being donated to schools. Some objects are being returned to storage but most will be packed for the exhibition’s international tour. On 11 April, an exhibition closely based on Fashioned from Nature will open at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen. It’s great to be able to bring exhibitions to a new audience and Denmark, with its strong focus on sustainability, is a perfect match for Fashioned from Nature.
Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the exhibition, the many visitors who took the time to write comments and last but not least our sponsors The European Confederation of Flax and Hemp (CELC) and G-Star RAW.
We would also like to sincerely thank you for reading the exhibition blog and hope that you have found it an enjoyable and educational addition to the exhibition. We also hope that you have been as inspired by visiting the exhibition and reading the blog as we have been when creating it and that you too will become part of the movement working towards a more sustainable fashion industry.