Dress For Our Time – Chapter 1

Dress For Our Time by David Betteridge www.davidbetteridge.com

Dress For Our Time by David Betteridge www.davidbetteridge.com

With COP21 fast approaching (30 November – 11 December), CSF members are busy organising events and activities to mark the occasion.  I have had the pleasure of supporting one of these projects, Dress For Our Time, a project by Helen Storey. Witnessing its development from initial discussion to sketch to the first chapter which will see the dress displayed at St Pancras International.

Yesterday (26 November) the first physical embodiment of Dress For Our Time will be launched at St Pancras station for four days only.  Dress For Our Time will be realised in a series of Chapters – the first will focus solely on Climate Change.  As the gateway to Paris – the host city of the United Nations Climate Change conference COP 21 – the project hopes to engage many of the delegates and dignitaries that will be passing through the station.  Doing what Helen does best this beautiful installation uses the power of fashion to communicate some of the world’s most complex issues and help change the way we think and act upon climate change.

The project that has been 2 years in the making and was born from a meeting where Helen gathered climate scientists and researchers to look at how we as a species are or are not responding to climate change.  A date was mentioned during the discussion, the tipping point for us as a species – 2020, and this date has changed everything for Helen.

With various partners, voices and agendas it’s been an interesting journey and a continually developing one that has raised many issues and concerns for us as a team.  One being how we communicate a difficult and often scary subject matter? How do we engage people on this?  Especially when the most common responses to climate change are ‘technology will save us’, ‘God will save us’ and/or ‘it’s not happening’, ‘it’s too complicated’ or ‘no-one else is doing anything, why should I?’

And from Helen’s personal interviews, the worst thing she’s heard is, ‘well, everybody I know and love now will be dead by then, so I don’t care.’

The dress will digitally display data which will show the impact of climate change on our physical world. It will show our planet as it will be if we DON’T DO ENOUGH. The dress has been developed in partnership with award winning interactive creative agency Holition, and the data has been taken from a study conducted by a team of global scientists and provided by the Met Office.

The Dress itself is made from a tent (which was no longer in useable condition) gifted to the project by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In giving the tent a second life it gives this public art installation an unbreakable bond to humanity and represents the importance of nurturing and protecting all people and safeguarding generations to come.  It is a powerful symbol of what it means to be human and the precarious nature of our existence.

Join us in encouraging action by visiting Dress For Our Time at St Pancras station, next to the Jon Betjeman statue, between 26-29 November.

A Tweetchat with Helen will take place 2-3pm on 27th November – join the conversation using #Dress4OurTime.