A multi disciplinary research project in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland, Mal Burkinshaw - Fashion ECA, Jill Burke – History of Art ECA, and All Walks Beyond the Catwalk.
This project brings together art historical research with contemporary fashion design to question cultural commonplaces about beauty and body image.
The beautiful bodies of the Renaissance - the fleshy women of Titian or Rubens or the androgynous forms of Michelangelo or Leonardo - are a long way away from today's size zero model, yet both have been considered ideals of beauty in these diverse societies. The current "thin ideal", as propagated by a range of media sources, has been criticised for causing psychological damage, particularly to girls and young women, whose internalisation of these messages can mean they view their own bodies with disgust.
An exhibition took place at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (November 2014-May 2015) and its associated events and publications provided the project with a fulcrum of research approaches. The exhibition juxtaposed Renaissance images with clothing and accessories and contemporary fashion photography, designed in response to these images and discussions around body image. The exhibition decontextualised Renaissance images to contribute to contemporary debates in a way that had not been done previously.
The project was launched at a symposium in the Portrait Gallery in September 2012 with experts from a variety of areas (eg History of Art and Costume, Fashion Design, History, Psychology, and Education).