Aid worker Jo Dunlop travelled to Freetown in 2011. While working on the devastating health impacts of Sierra Leone’s bloody civil war, Dunlop was captivated by the Sierra Leoneans’ unique fashion sense and strong personal style.
“The streets are teeming with some of the most resourceful, brave and outrageous fashion decisions ever made. In a country so commonly associated with civil war and blood diamonds and more recently Ebola, I felt inspired to show a different side to Sierra Leone and reveal an unlikely fashion hotspot.”
She began a fashion blog, FREETOWN FASHPACK which matched sensational street photography style with the gushy hyperbolic syntax used in fashion publications the world over. The blog was an instant hit and Dunlop’s work has since been featured in The Guardian, The New York Times and a Dateline documentary on SBS.
In 2015 ABC ARTS commissioned an 8-part web series to be screened on its digital catch up service iView which premiered in March 2016. Footage from this series accompanies this Bega Valley Regional Gallery tour of 15 larger than life photographic portraits from the FREETOWN FASHPACK archive.
Dunlop’s photography is shot from the hip on the run but exudes a sensitivity to her subject, the sitters reveling in their notoriety with pride in their own personal brand of style. An uplifting and thoroughly relatable show, this exhibition gives audiences a taste of a unique and unfamiliar culture using a global medium of communication, fashion and personal, individual expression.
A Bega Valley Regional Gallery touring exhibition.
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