Originally scheduled to run from 21-29 March, the third annual Sherman Centre for Culture and Ideas (SCCI) Fashion Hub was slated to bring together dozens of leading local and international practitioners. The event was planned to cover fashion, design and culture however – as the now all-too-familiar caveat goes – the event was halted due to COVID-19.
But it would be remiss of us to think that a nexus of innovative thinkers and creatives would be squashed entirely by the situation. The SCCI has quickly reconfigured the program and has this month launched a virtual version of the Fashion Hub.
Dr Gene Sherman AM, SCCI’s founder, stated “[we] will now take advantage of current technology, broadcasting our 2020 Fashion Hub as a rich content, Australia-focused, visually compelling virtual symposium. Instead of welcoming 1,500 people to SCCI, we will be bringing SCCI to you – making our 35-plus Australian fashion and culture experts both locally and globally accessible.”
Running over six weeks, the Virtual Fashion Hub 2020 will deliver a series of video interviews with a number of the scheduled speakers. Recorded at the Braelin Pavilion (the acclaimed 1918 home originally belonging to the Lord Mayor of Sydney and now owned by the Shermans), the Virtual Hub videos will be presented in weekly themes.
First is Craftsmanship & Community: Producing in the Pacific which presents a deep-dive conversation between Caroline Sherman (Among Equals); master milliner Rosie Boylan and Dr Michael Mel (Australian Museum) moderated by author and journalist Carolina Baum.
The second week will follow the theme of Fashion and Identity: Communist China and will encompass a conversation between Vivian Bi, author of Bright Swallow: Making Choices in Mao’s China, and educator and translator Jane Sydenham-Kwiet.
Highlights from the following weeks include a conversation with Frances Morris (Director of the Tate Modern); a conversation with Bell Shakespeare’s Peter Evans with costume and set designer Anna Tregloan; Hands of India: Knitting Together A Sustainable Future; and Fashioning Costume: Opera.
Alongside this, SCCI has partnered with Google Arts & Culture (which has been one of the overall saving graces for the cultural sector during our time of social distancing) to share curated content from the Sherman Galleries (1986-2007) and the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation’s (2008-2017) extensive exhibition and project archives. The curation will present work from leading artists including Olafur Eliasson, Ai Wei Wei, Janet Laurence and Yang Fudong, amongst many others.
Whilst the Virtual Hub does not replace the extensive program that was planned for the landmark event, SCCI proves that it is a leader in the pack by continuing to foster thought-provoking ideas with professional and agile production. SCCI has also promised that the original star-studded keynote line up (which has included Daniel Lismore from the UK, Diane Venet from France, Hed Mayner from Israel and Masataka Hosoo from Japan) will be reintegrated into future programming.