Sometimes fashion, investment and art go together and do have a clear message. A good example is the exhibition “Tangled Yarns” by Alke Schmidt, which showed at the William Morris Gallery in until 1 Feb 2015. The exhibition, which was specially commissioned by the Gallery and supported by Arts Council England, explored the politics and morality of the global textile industry and the cotton trade from the 18th century to the present day. Each work examined a different episode in the industry’s complex history, revealing how its entire value chain was and is intertwined with issues of race and gender, exploitation and violence, and incorporating fabrics that matched the story being told. To find these stories, Alke did extensive research, working with experts across disciplines including history, industry and labour rights, and sourcing textiles from around the world. You can find some of the research and background to the “Tangled Yarns” project in her exhibition blog
The exhibition was accompanied by talks and panel discussions such as “Is fashion still to die for?” which discussed the impact of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh on the global “fast fashion” industry.
For those who have missed the exhibition there is good news. You will be able to see most of the art works in September and October 2015 at Cromford Mills the world’s first successful water powered cotton spinning mills and the blueprint of modern factory production. Please find a short selection of art work here .
Seeing Alke’s art made me realise that art offers different, often more emotional and subjective, ways of engaging with the public. According to the curator at the William Morris Gallery, “Tangled Yarns” stimulated more debate and discussion amongst visitors than any other of their temporary exhibitions to date. Maybe we in the investment community should think about using art as an additional way of communication to raise awareness?