For one day only, the Garden Museum in London will play host to a day of performance and discussion to explore debates around feminism, focusing on analogies between roses and the (mostly) female body and lifecycle, and sustainability and the cut roses trade. Set against the backdrop of the Garden Museum's latest exhibition Wild & Cultivated: Fashioning The Rose, co-curated by the dress historian Amy de la Haye and the set designer Simon Costin, events on Monday 9 May will focus upon fashion artist Jo Cope’s installation for London Craft Week, The Feminist Rose (2021).
Working with vegetable tan leather, lamp nappa and beechwood, Cope uses her craft to explore social activism, supporting the homeless charity Shelter in her work. She creates conceptual shoes which allude to themes of feminism and ageism, and The Feminist Shoe is a triptych of sculpted pieces featuring a hybrid rose and stiletto shoe.
'It explores parallels made between the lifecycle of the rose (bud, bloom, decay), women’s lives and being peri-menopausal herself. The design of the central piece comprises a critical response to the French philosopher George Bataille’s alternative Language of Flowers (1927). Bataille believed that flowers were repugnant and paradoxical. Singling out the rose (as the most romanticised of flowers) he declared that once the petals were stripped away, only a "sordid tuft" remains', de la Haye explains.
Cope has collaborated with de la Haye, sustainable flower designer Shane Connolly and performance artist Xrestina Prompona to explore the connotations of the rose, with visitors invited to watch them in conversation with the Garden Museum's curator Emma Hope, over a lunchtime session. This will be bookended by morning and afternoon performances by tPrompona. They will perform a ‘human plant hybrid’ provocation involving figurative poses that blur the boundaries between people, objects and environments. She will be accompanied by readings from de la Haye and Connolly. The costumes and props are mostly made using upcycled waste materials.
11:00- 11:20 Performance
12:00 - 12:20 Performance
12:30 - 13:30 A conversation with Jo Cope, Amy de la Haye, Shane Connolly and Garden Museum Curator Emma Hope
14:00 - 14:20 Performance
15:00 - 15:20 Performance