Student Volunteer Daisy reports on our fabulous event last week, the annual Bill Douglas Memorial Lecture from Keith Lodwick and Pamela Hutchinson.

Wednesday 7th June saw two of The Bill Douglas Cinema Museum’s board members, Keith Lodwick, former curator for the V&A on Theatre and Screen, and Pamela Hutchinson, journalist, blogger and author of upcoming BFI Classics book on The Red Shoes, come to the University campus to discuss writing, curating and some very famous costuming.

Keith started the first half of the evening, offering insider knowledge on the processes of curating an exhibition and how to display key pieces of cinema history, most notably in curating the 2012 V&A exhibition on Hollywood Costume. While explaining in-depth concepts on choices for display such as showcasing costume with screens depicting actors faces or projecting images of the star along with the costume, rather than using a mannequin, so they seem more life-like, Keith kept the tone light and accessible so that complete novices to well-seasoned experts could find something to enjoy. A particular highlight came in his discussion of Vivien Leigh and the impact that curating has had on her image, bringing her out of Laurence Olivier’s shadow and prompting three books on her life and impact, including Reframing Vivien Leigh Dr Lisa Stead, formerly here at Exeter.

After a neat segue from the ubiquitous ruby slippers from the Wizard of Oz, Hutchinson took over the talk for a discussion on the other famopus cinema pair of red shoes. Taking careful pains to avoid spoilers for the 1948 film starring Moira Shearer, Hutchinson detailed The Red Shoes’ place in cinema and gave some fascinating insight into the process of researching for a long-term project, describing in detail the process of planning and researching archives to inform and guide a research project. Hutchinson generously detailed her creative process and left the audience with no doubt of the historical relevance of the film and its included 17-minute dance sequence, both inspiring and informing attendees.

Overall, the evening provided an enchanting glimpse of the place of dance and costume in the museum and how archival objects still hold a lot of life within them. A listener’s question on whether these objects hold a trace of magic was lightly answered by the pair, Hutchinson’s practicality and Lodwick’s passion coming through and informing both sides of the argument. Whatever their own beliefs, those in attendance would gladly attest to a little bit of the wonder of Hollywood glamour being relayed through their talk, a testimony to the power of objects which seemed only fitting as a tribute to Bill Douglas’ own passion. 


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