Life on the Outskirts Exhibition: Contemporary Practice inspired by the Helen Storey Foundation Archive

Open 11th October – 24th October (Weekdays 9am – 4pm)

Opening Discussion – Thursday 11th October, 2 – 3.30pm

Benzie Building, Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University, Higher Ormond Street, Manchester, M15 6BG


Life on the Outskirts brings together work by art and design students and graduates from Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Leeds inspired by Helen Storey Foundation archive. These contemporary responses are displayed alongside Helen Storey’s ‘Dress for Our Time’ (2015) and archival images.

Presented by Helen Storey Foundation (HSF), the University of Leeds and Manchester Metropolitan University, Life on the Outskirts is an AHRC-funded project about finding fresh creativity by revisiting past practice. Following the exhibition’s successful launch in the School of School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds, the exhibition opens in Manchester in October 2018 to coincide with Design Manchester 2018.

Project Principal Investigator Dr Robert Knifton, from the University of Leeds commented, “It’s been brilliant to bring together creative practitioners from our student and graduate communities with Helen Storey Foundation and to see the fantastic ideas it generated. This exhibition is our chance to showcase the results of this hugely positive, beneficial encounter.”

Helen Brayshaw, 2nd Year, MA Fine Art, University of Leeds

Co-Investigator Dr Alison Slater, from Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University reflected: “The project has provided an amazing opportunity to mentor a small group of students and graduates, away from taught and assessed activities. The ‘Life on the Outskirts’ exhibition is a great way to end this project and share the impact that the project and the work of the Helen Storey Foundation has had on their personal creative practices.”

The project uses the HSF archive as a case study and inspiration. Over more than 35 years as a practitioner, Helen Storey has produced innovative creative responses to innumerable briefs and issues. The archive is a personal collect

ion gathered over Helen’s working life which exists between fashion, art and science. The medium of clothing is used to address issues such as resource scarcity, climate change and migration; these themes are commonly reflected in the participants’ responses.

At the heart of the archive are the creative lives of two women, Helen herself and Caroline Coates, her collaborator, co-director and joint founder of HSF, who have worked together since 1983. In exploring ways to represent, utilise, and open up the HSF archive, it became clear that Helen and Caroline’s voices were central. A short film by filmmaker David Betteridge features in the exhibition, highlighting this working relationship. Professor Helen Storey MBE RDI and Caroline Coates of Helen Storey Foundation: “It has been a delightful privilege to investigate new responses, and share our work so intimately, yet rigorously. This enables us to re-examine the value and keychallenges of our long creative history and share the very human stories behind the work and what helped to shape it. Most of all, it’s joyous to see how our efforts have engendered such original work relevant to the designers of tomorrow.”


The exhibition opens with special guests, Helen Storey and Caroline Coates. Participating artists will be in conversation with Helen Storey Foundation about their involvement in the Life on the Outskirts project. Thursday 11th October, 2 – 3.30pm, Floor 4, Benzie Building, Manchester School of Art.


For more information on the project, exhibition, and film visit: www.lifeontheoutskirts.org