Saturday 14 October 2023 – Sunday 18 February 2024

The extraordinary and inspiring Lee Miller (1907 – 1977) has her life and work on show in a fantastic and unique new  exhibition  at Brighton Museum. Lee was a photographer, surrealist, model, war correspondent, writer, traveller, and cook.

Lee Miller

The exhibition will examine Lee Miller’s life and work through fashion and dress, beginning in Paris in the late 1920s and ending in Sussex in the mid-1950s. It includes Miller’s outfits which represent key moments in her biography and her creativity. The exhibition includes her Parisian fashion of the 1930s and her fashionable dress worn in New York, jodhpurs, bathing wear and traditional folk dress from travel and adventures in Egypt and Europe with surrealist friends and artists. Her military uniform from her work as a war correspondent, and maternity dress celebrating life in rural Sussex as a surrealist host.

Very few of these intimate items have ever been seen in public. The wardrobe will be seen alongside her photography and brings a unique perspective to the stories of her life.

The exhibition coincides with a new film LEE, exploring Miller’s life starring Kate Winslet in the lead.

The show focuses on seven places and times in Lee’s life. Each location represents not only a moment in Miller’s life but a period of creativity distinct from the others: Paris and her emergence as a photographer setting up her own studio, her New York studio photographing American art and fashion. Her work in Egypt photographing landscapes and her move into non-studio portraiture. Her later travels in 1930s Europe celebrating life and unfamiliar cultures. Her fashion photography and the arts under conflict in wartime London, and documenting history and the trauma of World War II on the European frontline. The exhibition concludes with Miller’s life as a gourmand and host at Farleys, Sussex.

Curator Martin Pel said: ‘The chance discovery of the trunks of Lee Miller’s clothes at her home in Sussex is extraordinary – and revelatory. Clothes are so personal that to be able to tell the story of one of the most incredible people of the twentieth century through her clothing alongside her work is really a dream project.

‘The exhibition includes ten outfits, representing key moments in Miller’s life and her biography, with her photographic work complementing her clothing. But it is through Miller’s dress that we get a much more personal understanding of who she was and how she lived – a fashion model, a war correspondent, a wife, and a mother. It’s all there in the exhibition.’

Model Elizabeth Cowell wearing a Digby Morton Suit – London England, 1941. Photograph by Lee Miller © Lee Miller Archives England 2023. All Rights Reserved.

Granddaughter of Lee Miller and director of the Lee Miller Archives, Ami Bouhassane said: ‘Farleys and the Lee Miller Archives is excited to be working on this exhibition with the wonderful team at Brighton & Hove Museums to show these clothes and new way of looking at Lee Miller’s work. A significant amount of the clothes in this exhibition have not been seen before. We only discovered them just before Covid-19 and have been working on the conservation and documentation of them since then. Martin Pel’s vision for including them in an exhibition to give another dimension to Lee’s work is exciting.’

The exhibition is curated by Martin Pel, Curator of Fashion & Textiles, Brighton & Hove Museums. Exhibition loans are from Lee Miller Archives, East Sussex, England.

LEE MILLER : http://www.leemiller.co.uk

WHAT’S ON AT BRIGHTON MUSEUM: https://brightonmuseums.org.uk/whats-on/

Andrew Collins

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