Legging it

16th October 1998 at 01:00
Vicki Cowan has designed five pairs of trousers with interchangeable legs that Velcro together and zip into a set. Are you with me? All you have to do is choose two contrasting legs and four good friends and you have made a sort of living version of a daisychain paper cut-out. Just don't try to run. I favoured mock ermine and scarlet PVC and Vicki joined up on my left with a matching pair in gold cloth.

I met Vicki in the Dressing Room at the Hayward Gallery's exhibition, Addressing the Century: 100 Years of Art amp; Fashion. She is a new graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art and, along with other student designers, has produced work to be tried on and played with in an area at the heart of the exhibition. At intervals an inflatable wedding dress automatically billows and subsides in the corner while you run your eye along a rail: a net skirtcape decorated with shiny leaves? A length of intricately intercut rubber? Take your pick.

Vicki is enjoying her temporary placement as "dresser" to people who can take pleasure in touching exhibits. She or another student designer will be on hand to help dressers-up. On Saturday afternoons, there will be an artist to "bring the collection alive" for small groups of children.

The main exhibition starts sombrely in a room that is ill-lit and where too many exhibits are displayed flat, way below eye-level, but the theme is already clear here: the interconnections between high art, theatrical design, style and social comment. The first room shows designs by Bakst, Matisse, Dufy and Paul Poiret, who waged war on the corset. Four further rooms, which are much more involving, lead to the present. There are witty Schiaparelli dresses from the Thirties; solid, fantastic figurines; designs for the ballet by Bauhaus artist and teacher Oskar Schlemmer; Dal!'s "Aphrodisiac Dinner Jacket" of 1936; vertiginous shoes by Vivienne Westwood. Now a young designer might just as well make clothes for a gallery as a client. But then, some of us think that about London Fashion Week. (For information packs about the exhibition and to plan group visits,0171 921 0951. Until January 11.)

Even younger artists and designers can shine in Young at Art , a London Institute competition open to the capital's secondary schools and further education colleges. There will be awards for digital art, fashion and interior and graphic design, as well as fine art. Young film-makers can win a day on the set of a Mike Leigh production, and winning writers will go behind the scenes at BBC Radio. But perhaps more interesting even than these are the five special awards offered for innovative teaching. Prizes in this category include substantial benefits to schools, such as a class trip to Paris and thousands of pounds worth of computer equipment. There will be an exhibition of award-winning work next spring. Closing date for entries: January 8, 1999. (Further information: 0171 514 6238.)

Servite School, Fulham , is already celebrating. Twenty-six children there helped an artist design a fresco in the summer and they are exhibiting their work on October 27, 28, 29 and 30. Carey Mortimer is one of only three artists in the UK, trained at the Italian School of Fresco and qualified to teach. She belongs to a co-operative, KeyStage 2000, set up by former footballer Malcolm Roberts to bring professional artists and sports people into schools. The co-operative has been working with schools in London for about five years. Roberts would like to take the project nationwide. (For more information about the co-operative: 0468 123430.)

Various towns and cities become the focus of The Arts Place , an organisation which sets out to teach local history by means of art and drama. This season they have brought to life Tudors in Bristol and Coventry, Victorians in Derby and medieval people in Reading, involving children in street activities, arts and crafts. (For information about next year's plans: 0171 240 2468.)

Nine hundred Suzuki-trained children from all over the UK will take part in a concert to celebrate the life of Shinichi Suzuki , the violinist and teacher who believed that all children could master an instrument. The concert will be at 3pm on October 25 at the Royal Festival Hall. (For tickets or information about the Suzuki method, 01582 8323424. )

The TES is celebrating, too. Three of the Yates family - Luke, Ruth and Thomas - are among the 13 winners of The Simon Elvin Prize for National Young Poets of the Year, organised for National Poetry Day by the Poetry Society. The entries were judged by prize-winning poets Don Paterson and Jo Shapcott. The Yateses have all featured in TES Young Poet of the Week, as have many other students taught by their father,Cliff, at the Maharishi School in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. A fourth winner, Penelope Buswell, is also a student of his. The young poets' prize is a week's course at the Arvon Centre at Lumb Bank in Yorkshire.

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