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North: Fashioning Identity

Start Date 08 November 2017
End Date 04 February 2018
Venue Somerset House
Location London, UK
Curator Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray
Exhibition installation of mannequin with large mouth

8 November 2017 – 4 February 2018
East Wing Galleries, Somerset House, London
£7, £5 concessions

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

This winter, Somerset House is proud to present North: Fashioning Identity, an exhibition examining representations of the north of England and Northerners in photography, fashion and art.

North: Fashioning Identity features over 100 photographs, fashion garments and artworks from a host of renowned photographers, designers and artists including Alasdair McLellan, Corinne Day, Mark Leckey, Jeremy Deller, Raf Simons, Paul Smith, Off White’s Virgil Abloh, Peter Saville, Stephen Jones, Gareth Pugh, Nick Knight, Glen Luchford, Jamie Hawkesworth and David Sims, plus the likes of Shirley Baker, John Bulmer and Peter Mitchell.

In the exhibition, contemporary photography, fashion collections and multimedia artworks will sit alongside social documentary film and photography, highlighting how the realities of life in the north of England captured in the 20th century continue to influence new generations of photographers, artists and designers.

The show unpicks the themes and tropes present in these collective visions of northern England, from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Birkenhead, Doncaster to Preston, considering why these regions, or representations of these regions, are increasingly a source of inspiration and still so idealised today.

Many of the works offer personal reflections on the artist’s sense of northern identity, including a number of interview films, produced by SHOWstudio, with northern born-and-bred talent on how their homes have influenced their creative output over the years.   Specially commissioned for the show, the exhibition will also feature ‘Infinity’, a new film by Doncaster-born photographer Alasdair McLellan, in which he revisits the sites of his youth.

However it is not just homegrown creatives, but also admirers from further afield who are shaping and spreading narratives of the North. The international impact and far-reaching resonances of northern style and culture – its music, film, sport, fashion, landscapes and communities – are also showcased in the exhibition, from Belgian-born Raf Simons’ parkas with Peter Saville prints to the Haçienda-inspired designs of American fashion designer and creative director of Off White, Virgil Abloh.

Curated by writer, independent curator and SHOWstudio editor-at-large Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray, lecturer at Manchester School of Art and Central Saint Martins, and in partnership with Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery, the exhibition will be expanded at Somerset House to include over 20 new works and a new design.

North: Fashioning Identity Events
Alongside the show, a series of stimulating events will delve deeper into some of the stories told through the exhibition.  Highlights include:

Panel Discussion: Curating North
Wednesday 15th November, 19:00 – 20:30
Embankment Galleries Studio, South Wing
Talk: £10/£8 conc.  Combo ticket including talk and exhibition entry: £15/£12 conc.

Co-curators Lou Stoppard and Adam Murray reveal the inner workings of the exhibition, sharing the stories behind the initial development of the show, the integration of new works in its transition from Liverpool to London, artist relations and the complications of showcasing ‘The North’, considering the truths, the myths and the spaces in between.

The conversation will be introduced by Somerset House’s Exhibitions team and chaired by Sarah Fisher, Executive Director of Open Eye, the Liverpool gallery which originally exhibited the show.

In Conversation: Lou Stoppard, Gareth Pugh & Charles Jeffrey
Wednesday 22nd November, 18:45 – 20:30
River Rooms, New Wing
Talk: £7. Combo ticket including talk and exhibition entry: £12, available from mid-October

Kicking off a new bi-monthly ‘in conversation’ series profiling the work and influences of Somerset House Studio artists, co-curator Lou Stoppard will lead a conversation between fashion designers Charles Jeffrey and Gareth Pugh, one of the contributors to North: Fashioning Identity.

Both designers are now based at Somerset House, but originally hail from Glasgow and Sunderland respectively.  The conversation will cover the pairs’ relocation from North to South and its impact on their networks and the cross-disciplinary collaborations that have brought them to the forefront of the fashion field.

North: Fashioning Identity is supported by adidas.

Exhibition artists:
Virgil Abloh
Gary Aspden
Shirley Baker
Claire Barrow
John Bulmer
Vanley Burke
Elaine Constantine
Philippe Conti
John Davies
Corinne Day
Brett Dee
Jeremy Deller
David Ellison
Jason Evans
Simon Foxton
Ken Grant
Nik Hartley
Jamie Hawkesworth
Alice Hawkins
Eric Jaquier
Humphrey Jennings
Stephen Jones
Ben Kelly
Scott King
Nick Knight
Greg Leach
Mark Leckey
Glen Luchford
Stephen McCoy
Alasdair McLellan
Peter Mitchell
Thom Murphy
New Power Studio
Paul O’Donnell
Ingrid Pollard
Gareth Pugh
Martin Roberts
Michael Robinson
Kuba Ryniewicz
Michelle Sank
Peter Saville
Samantha Seneviratne
Christopher Shannon
Raf Simons
David Sims
John Skelton
Paul Smith
Ewen Spencer
Humphrey Spender
Maxwell Sterling
John Stoddart
Dave Turner
Rob Williams
Tom Wood


For press enquiries, please contact: / 0207 845 4624

Dates: 8 November 2017 – 4 February 2018
Times: Wednesday – Friday: 11.00 – 20.00, Saturday – Tuesday: 10.00- 18.00
Tickets: £7, £5 concessions (available from the autumn at
Address:  East Wing Galleries, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA
Transport:  Underground: Temple, Embankment / Rail:  Charing Cross, Waterloo, Blackfriars

Somerset House Facebook:
Somerset House Twitter: @SomersetHouse

Somerset House Instagram: @SomersetHouse
Hashtag: #North

About Somerset House
A unique part of the London cultural scene, Somerset House is an historic building where surprising and original work comes to life. From its 18th-century origins, Somerset House has been a centre for debate and discussion – an intellectual powerhouse for the nation. Somerset House is today a key cultural destination in London in which to experience a broad range of artistic activity, engage with artists, designers and makers and be a part of a major creative forum – an environment that is relaxed, welcoming, and inspirational to visit while providing a stimulating workplace for the cultural and creative industries.

Since its opening in 2000, Somerset House has built up a distinctive outdoor public programme including Skate, concerts, an open-air film season and a diverse range of temporary exhibitions throughout the site focusing on contemporary culture, with an extensive learning programme attached. In October 2016, Somerset House launched Somerset House Studios, a new experimental workspace connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. The Studios provide a platform for new creative projects and collaboration, promoting work that pushes bold ideas, engages with urgent issues and pioneers new technologies. Somerset House is also one of the biggest community of creative organisations in London including The Courtauld Gallery and Institute of Art, King’s College London Cultural Institute and over 100 other creative businesses. It currently attracts approximately 3.4 million visitors every year.

About adidas
adidas is the original sports brand, driven by innovation and a call to action. We know that the mind and body can only take you so far.
Creativity is what fuels us ­ whether it’s on the field, on the court, or on the street, creativity is our inspiration. We are obsessed with helping athletes make a difference in their game, in their life, and in their world.  Because we believe through sport we have the power to change lives. Our focus is to create the best product, the best service and the best experience.

About Open Eye Gallery
Open Eye Gallery, founded in 1977, is an independent, not-for-profit photography gallery based in Liverpool. One of the UK’s leading photography spaces, it is the only gallery dedicated to photography and related media in the North West of England.

As photos becomes more and more embedded in everyday life, Open Eye Gallery promotes and celebrates the practice of focused, engaged photography. It also investigates the different ways photography is used to communicate today. A registered charity, Open Eye Gallery believes photography is for everyone and can be meaningful, informing our present and inspiring positive futures. Open Eye Gallery works with people to explore photography’s unique ability to connect, to tell stories, to inquire, to reflect on humanity’s past and present, and to celebrate its diversity and creativity.

Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Somerset House.