The RW on 29th April has stimulated a splurge of RW-related activity around the country. Sadly, I didn't find out in time about the school in Liverpool that put on a 'Big Fat Gypsy Wedding'-themed event which dressed up kids in the mad meringues featured in the show to celebrate the forthcoming RW. Sad, as it would have been a bit of culturally-questionable kitsch. However, passions for the social life, history and place of wedding couture and culture in the UK can nonetheless be indulged in various ways and places.
Snibston Discovery Museum, Leicestershire: www.snibston.com
"Getting Hitched" (until Sunday 15th May)
The exhibition of 21 outfits, the earliest from 1780 and the most recent from 2006, looks at the influence Royal weddings have had on matrimonial fashions. Interesting from a general material cultural point of view but also significant in that it includes in it's wedding costume view recent social/cultural shifts as civil partnerships are covered too.
Rag Factory, Shoreditch : www.rsvphrh.com (no date supplied)In Heneage Street, just off Brick Lane an exhibition created by from an open submission to international artists displays alternative RW invites made from a wide variety of materials and methods from huge illustrated posters to t-shirts. Distinctly non-"traditional" and with a feel of edginess, this response to the pomp and pageantry of a good old-fashionned, flag-waving national event, definately registers as both an antidote and refuge when crowded out from central London by the mayhem.
Mass Observation Archive Royal Wedding Directive: http://www.massobs.org.uk/index.htm
If you want to commit your own thoughts on the RW to paper, the Archive is on the lookout for submissions by writers describing their 29th April. What they are looking are perceptions and activities on that day to provide an broad view, so adding a dimension of everyday sentiment or critique to the record regarding national events. It was also done in 1981 for Charles and Diana's wedding so perceptions gathered regarding monarchy and the event's significance (or otherwise) will be very interesting in comparison. As the Archive is accessible, this will be possible to see once collated so an interesting source of research data for any interested in European cultures. Sign up to become an observer by visiting the site and clicking the ‘Writing For Us’ link.
OK, that's quite enough about the RW, onto other stuff and moving from the fragrant and orderly world of wedding-bells to disorderly dirt:
Wellcome Trust, London:
"Dirt" (until 31 August)
This interactive and highly media/visual-savvy exhibition was stimulated by anthropologist Mary Douglas' observation of dirt as "matter out of place". Tied-in with the BBC series 'Filthy Cities' (advertised with great retro 'Scratch and Sniff' cards), the exhibition ranges across six different spaces and periods in time providing a view on dirt as captured with, on and through visual arts, objects and media. The exploration takes in different attitudes and practices associated with the disorderly nature of dirt and it's interaction with community in 17th century Holland, Victorian London, mid-19th century Glasgow, early twentieth century Dresden, present-day New Delhi and, projecting grime futures , a New York landfill site in 2030.
The film Q2P by Paromita Vohras (distributed and archived at the RAI www.therai.org.uk/fs/film-sales/) is being screened at the exhibition, addressing issues of urban anthropology as it traces the gendering of public space through the difficulties women have accessing public toilets in New Delhi. As the search for a 'Ladies' unfolds, the restriction of activity and presence for women in public space and resulting social effects is described . I tried and failed to find this film last year so it's well worth catching it at the exhibtion.