Edinburgh is somewhere I have been eager to visit for a long time, and finally being in Newcastle meant that it was only a short journey away, I visited with uni in October 2019. The ‘Body Beautiful’ exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland was the perfect opportunity to explore Edinburgh, whilst also being able to appreciate the exhibition Georgina Ripley (Senior Curator) had put together. The exhibition explored the issues surrounding size, gender and sexuality, race, disability and age.
Upon arrival, we all hastily made our way into a lecture theatre where we were greeted by Ripley, who gave use a presentation on her thought process whilst creating the exhibition. It was enlightening to see that she had thought about a much wider range of equality, including issues such as ageism and ableism which are not often talked about in this modern day. She explained that often models won’t be hired after the age of 40 but gave us examples of those who do which was interesting to see. She quoted many inspiring figures who advocated for size, gender and sexuality, race, disability and age rights. At the end of the talk we were given an opportunity to ask Ripley questions we had about the exhibition; it was interesting to learn that Sinead Burke’s custom-made mannequin cost up to £1000. Sinead had spent 4 hours stood up in order to have the mannequin made for the exhibition, this furthers Ripley’s argument that disability is not catered to enough in society.
The exhibition itself was displayed in a small room, however this certainly didn’t undermine the thought and creative process which had gone into creating it. Entering the room, we were able to watch a short video clip on the behind the scenes of the exhibition and the meanings behind it. It was interesting to see how many people had been involved in putting together the exhibition, Ripley stressed how thankful she was for their input. Each issue had its own section in the exhibition and the first one we came across was disability. It was fascinating to see Sinead’s mannequin and the outfits which she chose to display on them. One of the outfits was a reconstructed Burberry coat; Sinead wanted to stress how clothes are made for people of a certain shape, even kid’s clothes do not fit her as they are narrower and a different proportion to her. My favourite piece in the exhibition was the black, cage like two-piece in the ‘Size’ section. It was shown on a spinning platform which was eye-catching and creative. The stance of the mannequin exuded confidence which really set this mannequin apart from the others. After making our way round the ‘Body Beautiful’ exhibition (and taking plenty of pictures) we decided to explore Edinburgh for the rest of the afternoon.
We decided to explore without google maps and ended up coming across some fab picture locations along with endearing ginnels and narrow stairs. The weather was mild for mid-October, so we managed to get some good outfit shots without our coats, even if they did get put back on five minutes later.
The wind wasn’t always on our side though….
As it started to rain, the day was finished with a large Chai latte and some snacks to accompany us on the two and a half hour journey home.