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Photograph by Alasdair McLellan,Tickhill Road, 2014.

North: Fashioning Identity

September 14 - December 21, 2019 / Barnsley, United Kingdom


An exhibition exploring contemporary artistic and stylistic representations of the north of England.

North: Fashioning Identity explores the way the North of England is depicted, constructed and celebrated in select photographs, artworks and fashion collections. The show brings together visions of the North, unpicking themes that appear regularly in design and media. It considers truth, myth and the spaces in-between.

Featuring over 100 photographs, alongside fashion garments and artworks, the exhibition positions documentary work dating back over eighty years next to more recent style media. It considers the ways in which the realities captured in early projects have become tropes, rehashed and recreated year on year, season on season. The exhibition celebrates the global influence of the cultural output of the North. On display, work by international designers shows the far-reaching relevance of North-inspired motifs and their appeal to audiences who may never have set foot in the region but feel a connection through music, graphics or style.

In his 2004 book Looking North, the cultural historian Dave Russell writes, ‘The real skill will be in learning to look beneath the clichés and habits of imagination that lie at the heart of these myths.’ With this in mind, this exhibition is both about the style and cultural heritage of the North, and the ways in which the ideals of it – the clothes, the music, the smells, the houses, the men, the women, the communities – have spread and, in turn, been shaped by others through visual representations. It is about the evolution of tradition, character and identity as much as it is about photography and fashion.

The exhibition originated at the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool and then toured to Somerset House in London. The Civic in Barnsley will be the final-destination and will be a unique presentation of the show, shaped by the local area. In addition to previous iterations, this show will spotlight key artists from South Yorkshire as well as presenting special historic articles from local archives.

Featured artists include Alasdair McLellan, Corinne Day, Mark Leckey, Jeremy Deller, Alice Hawkins, Paul Smith, Virgil Abloh, Peter Saville, Stephen Jones, Gareth Pugh, Nick Knight, Glen Luchford, Jamie Hawkesworth, Shirley Baker, John Bulmer and Peter Mitchell, plus many others.


Exhibition curated by Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray.

Set design by Tony Hornecker.

 An Open Eye Gallery production.

The Civic
Hanson Street
Barnsley, United Kingdom

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