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The Fabric of Life

The Fabric of Life

Wiltshire Youth Arts Partnership together with the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre has been awarded £32,600 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create the project The Fabric of Life.

In July 1967 the Sexual Offences Act finally decriminalised gay relationships between men over 21 in England and Wales. It was a momentous, transformative moment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

On the 50th Anniversary we will look back at the history of LGBT communities through the lens of fashion. Wiltshire Youth Arts will work with a wide variety of young people and focus particularly on fashion as identity for gender and sexuality.

The project will encourage young people to reflect on their developing values and beliefs about individuality.

There is an extensive collection of fashion and textiles held by local museums and this project will draw upon these resources, as well as those at the Bath Fashion Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). Young people will learn about fashion in different eras and how a range of sub-cultures deployed fashion as expressions of personal identity or to make political statements.

This project will have two phases to it; a research and exploration phase in which young people will visit the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, the V&A and local museums and undertake original research. This will be followed by a making phase in which the young people will create theatrical performances in the form of a fashion shows with film, music and dance.

The project will be led by young people aged 13 and 19 years of age. Young people will collect oral histories from different generations in Wiltshire to create a collection of narratives that describe how LGBT/young people dressed to express their identity in different decades of the 20th and 21st century. These stories will be used within a publication aimed to supporting schools in Wiltshire to explore the social and political history of LGBT communities.

Stuart Wheeler, cabinet member for heritage and arts said: “I’m delighted that we have received this funding. The Fabric of Life is an excellent project which by an imaginative combination of the experience of those affected, coupled with their choices in fashion, highlights the effects of the momentous decision of July 1967.”

If you would like to find out more about the project or know someone who would like to get involved then please contact:

WYAP Projects Coordinator: emily.malcolm@wiltshire.gov.uk or you can follow WYAP on Twitter @WyapArts


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