Bex Cassie, associate director of Nick Knight's archive and gallery manager at SHOWstudio
I’m the associate director of Nick Knight’s archive and the gallery manager here. SHOWstudio screams creative freedom and expression of thought. That's exactly the place you want to be. Nick, Charlotte, and the team have all taught me more in my time at SHOWstudio than anything I learnt in education. I started as an intern, then did a summer job in the gallery, and am now coordinating Nick's exhibitions. The team put equal value on everyone's voices at SHOWstudio, whether you're an intern or a member of staff. That is an attribute of any director which should always be valued.
I can't pick just one favourite project I’ve worked on, but a highlight was A Beautiful Darkness, which was the first exhibition I was involved in organising: a halloween party on crack. Not literally, but it had immersive theatre, performances, horoscope readings, live taxidermy and so much more. I organised the illustrations, which were macabre interpretations of looks Ellie Grace Cumming had allocated to the artists. We stuck a middle finger up to the white wall conventions and displayed them in total darkness, so the viewer could see them only by candlelight.
An archive project that always amazes me is Blade of Light. It encompasses everything about Nick's shoots; you see the concept grow and develop in front of you and as the viewer, you feel part of the discussion. Everyone on set is working 160% and by the end, they all look physically exhausted but elated to have contributed to another moment of magic.
SHOWstudio’s contribution to the world of fashion is immeasurable. Every new format has now made its way into the mainstream. Live streams, panel discussions, behind the scenes studio footage, illustrated collections coverage, and now, Zoom shoots over lockdown. Imitation is indeed the highest form of flattery, but it's nice to know you're part of a team that's pioneering.
Adam Boon, archivist for Nick Knight and SHOWstudio
For just under two years I’ve been working as the archivist for Nick Knight and SHOWstudio. Having formerly worked in the British Vogue archives, I’d been aware of SHOWstudio for some time via Nick Knight’s work for Vogue. I'd always enjoyed the studio's dedication to new technologies, support of fashion film and the commitment to open communication with its viewers and contributors.
SHOWstudio is very much a family business and the closeness of the team is something I noticed right away. This is something that has been particularly vital over the past ten months while we’ve all been working from home. Like all businesses, naturally there is a hierarchy, but in contrast to other companies, there is an accessibility and openness between departments which allows for a much more collaborative way of working. This is essential to the work that I do.
The studio started as a small team and has changed and developed enormously over the past two decades. Typically, with changes in the team and endless developments in management, a creative studio becomes host to ingenious (and not so ingenious) ways of 'archiving.' It’s my job to make sense of these previous ideas and distill each element of each project from the very beginning into a universal system which combines every digital and physical object that has been created for each individual project.
From its inception in 2000, the studio has championed new technologies, whether that be newly developed photography or animating software, the early days of the cameraphone, live-streaming, interactive design, 3D scanning and printing or in more recent years, artificial intelligence. The SHOWstudio archive is a unique record of these developments and a great reminder of how far we’ve come in the past two decades.
Alongside its dedication to new technologies, SHOWstudio has consistently championed the idea of capturing 'fashion in motion'. A film that epitomises the studio’s early advocacy of and experimentation in this medium is J-Walk from 2000. Watching this film in 2020, at a time where a large number of designers are eschewing the traditional runway show and instead embracing film to promote their collections, this simple abstraction of coloured dots perfectly capturing the undeniable trademark walk of runway teacher J. Alexander functions as an analogy for what SHOWstudio has arguably become most well known for: fashion film. The body, the fashion and the catwalk have gone, but what remains is this concentrated idea of unlimited possibility for recording or displaying fashion, like an animated paper doll ready to be dressed and dropped into any and every possible environment you can think of.
The studio's ongoing commitment to collaboration and interaction with its viewers is tracked throughout the website's history. Starting with a weekly email newsletter, a forum in the early 2000s and the later addition of a blog, then the obvious social media channels, the studio has continued to stay in open communication with its viewers and contributors. Naturally, this interaction now predominantly occurs within the comments sections of Instagram and YouTube. Although it’s unlikely that many of us wonder what will happen to a throwaway comment on a post, I often wonder: if one of the key parts of SHOWstudio has always been its viewers, how do we best celebrate and record those interactions? We’re currently floating the idea of downloading all fourteen years of the entire blog, which is possible since it’s no longer 'live.' The conversation has ended on this platform, but until the next significant means of online communication takes over, the comments keep coming, the conversation remains open and the challenge of archiving this unique element of SHOWstudio continues.