A horse’s skull on a pole sits in a room with pearly queens and morris dancers as part of an exhibition looking at Britain’s rich traditions of folk dance.

The exhibition in the London College of Fashion is a brisk visit to the world of carnivals and dances, and not just olde England, but the 1970s restorations of lost traditions and modern interpretations that mix in multicultural influences.

It’s a mix of showing off traditional dance costumes as works of creative art and telling the story of the traditions they represent.

There are a few choice objects, and the Marshfield Mummers costume, made from old shredded newspapers, is both a marvel of construction and a timestamp of a moment in history, as you can still read the newspaper articles that have been cut up.

A record of Morris dance costumes across the UK fills walls with dolls — each decorated by a different dance troup and sent back to add to the three-dimensional catalogue. Fittingly for an exhibition that’s in the Olympic Park, one of the costumes on display was worn during the 2012 closing ceremony.

Apart from the main display, in the far corner of the ground floor, next to the cafe, is a room showing films of folk dances across the country. And there’s more, if you head downstairs to a row of display cases, mostly telling the story of the pearly kings and queens and how they adopted costumes of suits covered in buttons

Anyone who has an interest in England’s history, fashion, or the just weirdness of our country’s traditions will find it an interesting exhibition to visit.

The exhibition, Making More Mischief: Folk Costume in Britain, is at UAL: London College of Fashion at the Olympic Park until 22nd June and is free to visit.

It’s open Tuesday to Saturday between 10am and 5pm – just go into the college building and the exhibition is easy to spot.


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