The UK-China Arts Exchange project was a collaboration between Sue Noble, eight students from BA Fashion and Textile Design from the University of Portsmouth, Professor Maggie Tao, and eight students from Wuhan Textile University, China.
Work from the programme will be exhibited in the Eldon Foyer, representing the two phases of the UK-China Arts Exchange Project, showcasing six outfits on the week, beginning the 19th of February 2018.
You can find out more about the project below.
What we wear; clothing, dress, fashion is a primary means of self-expression, particularly for creative, inventive and imaginative design students. There are multiple messages in what we wear that are open for interpretation, expansion and exploitation.
Functionality is not just what drives our dress choices, how we are feeling: confident, excited, shy, extrovert, serious, will influence what we wear. Colours, patterns, shapes, silhouette, fit etc. are the obvious expression of this but there are much more subtle messages in what we choose to wear as well.
These subtle messages are hidden codes that we all read and understand. This innovative project aimed to explore the messages and codes of clothing as a primary means of creative communication, exploring commonalities of expression across two cultures whilst recognising and valuing differences.
Design students are astute and knowledgeable readers of the semiotics of dress: This project aimed to recognise and appreciate this tacit knowledge held within the student community and use this as a starting point to explore, recognise and appreciate cultural differences and develop simpatico student groups for the purposes of a co-designed outcome.
The team worked together as a group of creative people: mutually concerned with fashion and textile design, but geographically diverse, to make innovative responses to the theme.
They explored both the common aspects of what brought us together and also the differences that we have. We communicated and documented this through the creative production of eight amazingly creative, co-designed final outfits.
The students worked in eight pairs of one student from Wuhan Textile University with a partner from the University of Portsmouth. They worked together to make something that expressed the message they identified together that they wanted to communicate using clothing and dress.
This was a short, intense project with a tight timetable the students had to think quickly, be intuitive and make decisions by trusting their own creativity and the expertise that they clearly have. Most importantly, they had to work as a strong team to celebrate the common need for self-expression.
The students worked together on a professional photo shoot, catwalk show and exhibition which was held at our sponsors venue, this was a wonderful opportunity to disseminate and publicize our fantastic working relationships and genuine global friendships.
‘The amount of confidence I have gained during this project is irreplaceable. It has made me feel like I can achieve anything, and I do really believe it now. It has taught me to stay real to my values and embrace them in my designs.
The project has been worth every second, every tear, every laugh, every lost pin, every minute of madness. It has been worth all the hard work, because good things come to those who put their soul into what they do and believe in, and never give up.
Although we come from rather different backgrounds and do not speak English as our first language, the communication has been quite effortless and the workload was easily divided between us. It has certainly been amazing to work in a team and always have another point of view to the design.
We wanted to make the garment quite personal and true to what we are passionate about, while also including social and political messages. It is amazing how much we have managed to accomplish in such a short period of time and we both feel proud of what we have learned and achieved.’ – Sanna Karjalainen, student participant.