A Gift for Eleonora
Output Type: Design and Performance Installation in UNESCO World Heritage Sites (2015, 2016); Book/Catalogue; Website performed at Bath Literature Festival, 2016.
This was a performance installation, selected by an international juried panel, originally commissioned to interrogate themes of Body, Dress and Costume, devised and performed for the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence, Italy. The work, and cluster of activity (re-devised for The Roman Baths, UK), was developed from an interdisciplinary research process, whose starting points for experimentation investigated Bronzino’s portrait of ‘Eleonora of Toledo with her son Giovanni’ (c. 1545) located in the Galleria degli Uffizi, the funeral dress of Eleonora housed in the Galleria del Costume, Palazzo Pitti and the site-specificity of Brunelleschi’s Cappella dei Pazzi. The research interrogated Eleonora’s world of sixteenth-century fashion and textiles, her attitude to health, well-being and the apothecary’s cabinet through forensic anthropology research based on the exhumation of Eleonora’s body, analysing original historical documents, artefacts and use of portraiture as document for a period. As part of an identity making research process, I filmed interviews of contemporary Florentine aristocracy to interrogate cultural memory through a fashion memento, their gift for Eleonora, which was particularly special to them and linked to the cultural heritage, history and life of Eleonora di Toledo (1522-1562). The research’s originality lies in the critical contextualisation of fashion performativity and exploring well-being through site-specific places, where the creation of a life lived is in the theatrical re-framing of the contemporary costume, and the creation of new methodologies for fashion curating. The critical reception and impact of the performance installation has enhanced knowledge of fashion, design and conservation in the imaginative scope of re-telling the importance of historical figure Eleonora di Toledo’s story to contemporary Florentines through the visual fascination of the costume, which is perceived as one garment. It contributes to an understanding of the value of interdisciplinary research within the frame of fashion education. https://eleonoradetoledo.com
Citation : White, C. (2016) A Gift for Eleonora.
Research Institute : Institute of Art and Design
- School of Design