111. Fashion

Carolan has been to another conference. This time it was the “Folk Narrative and the Visual Arts: Fashion, Design, Materials and Media” conference hosted at the London College of Fashion.

The conference explored “intersections of folk narrative and visual culture in all its various forms” drawing in research from across fine arts, sculpture, ceramics, installation, fashion, costume, film, TV, performance, digital media, illustration, book design, and material culture. Key conference themes included: the relationship between oral traditions and visual arts; cultural appropriation of traditional cultural narratives through visual arts; adaptation of narrative traditions in diverse media; and the role of the visual arts in constructing notions of popular traditional storytelling.

When we first saw these themes we were struck by how strongly they resonated with Carolan and its musings on the oral tradition of folk music, the visual arts through Artcodes, and diverse media and new forms of storytelling. Our presentation was titled “The Carolan Guitar: A musical instrument that intersects folklore and the visual arts” and introduced Carolan and its history before delving into the discussion of the relationship between oral, textual and Internet traditions as discussed back in Post 91.

Our hosts, the London College of Fashion, is located right by Oxford Circus, so it was an opportunity for a trip down to the Smoke and a fly past with Tin Pan Alley (Denmark Street), home of legendary guitar shops such as Hank’s, Rose Morris and Wunjo on the way. We played a couple of very nice top-end Martin guitars, but nothing with the character or personality of Carolan, so little temptation to blow the kid’s inheritance.

The trip fell during the UK’s mini-heatwave, on two of hottest days ever in the UK. Our hotel on Gower Street was a classic London gaffe – you need to take out a mortgage for a cupboard with no window or air conditioning. I’d forgotten that hotels like that existed. Come to that so had pretty much everyone else, including any decorators. That carpet (was it a carpet?) was pure vintage – including the dust. While vintage guitars may be prized, I’m less convinced about carpets.

Whinging aside, it was a good conference and a chance to discuss Carolan with a different audience from the usual crowd. You can read more about what happened at the conference on their blog post here – it’s good to see Carolan featured in the first image! We also picked up a copy of the Folk Tradition journal on the way out – wonder if they might be interested in a paper?

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