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Our aim is to link old master paintings at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery to contemporary fashion design, practice and display.
Renaissance artworks from the collections of the Scottish National Galleries were used as the basis for discussions and collaborations that led to the final design projects. A key aim of this project is to examine how historic works of art can provide us with a fruitful way to talk about contemporary issues.
Traditionally curatorial approaches to Renaissance art have concentrated on the skill of the artist, and attempted to locate his (or very occasionally her) work within a broader canon of art historical "greats". Thus, you would generally see the work of Paris Bordon being shown alongside a more famous Venetian artist of the period, such as Titian. More recently, an increased interest in the context in which art was made means that exhibitions with a focus on social or personal life uses objects like paintings as a type of historical evidence. So a painting like Bordon's might be used to consider a wealth of issues such as Renaissance attitudes to cosmetics, to female beauty, to clothing, or to race.
We wanted to take these paintings out of their historical framework and place them alongside the work of present-day artists and designers. Like the new works in the exhibition they speak to concerns about human identity that could be said to be timeless - gender, skin colour, body shape, age.
Using fashion to discuss issues relating to body image, this exhibition highlights the potential to improve self-esteem through adopting a more diverse approach to fashion design and how the idea of beauty is communicated.