Clothes are more than objects that protect us from the elements: they also perform a variety of complex social and cultural functions. They help us encode gender, they shape and present our bodies, they tie us to notions of class and social status and they help us integrate into wider communities and groups. Our clothes also have a further, non-utilitarian function, to both hold and invoke powerful memories. As social beings we gather and collect garments as a way of retaining precious thoughts and we then hoard these in ‘wardrobe narratives’, thus investing in our clothes yet more layers of extra, totemic value.
In February 2013 University of Northampton fashion and textiles students were asked to create screen-based works that explored and interrogated how we attach memory to garment. Through the act of producing screen-based works each student group went on a journey of research, documentation, creation and dissemination, whilst negotiating a range of methods, actions and processes. Many students captured powerful oral histories that sought to unpack the complex relationships we have with our clothes.
Memories is a short video that incorporates reflections from those involved in the project - students, tutors and library staff - as well as excerpts from the works. It seeks to share pedagogic practice, explore how various agencies within a teaching institution can work collaboratively to support student learning, and to consider how practice and theory can be bridged within the context of art and design education.