Cross-curricular activities: Black History and Art & Design / Languages
The Tailor and Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando feature Black and mixed-heritage figures with diverse and creative careers. You may wish to solely extend into a Black History lesson by watching and discussing Black British Stories on BBC Teach with your students.
You could also extend into an Art & Design lesson by tasking your own students with designing a textile pattern or print connected with their personal heritage.
As touched on in the context box, Himid was born to a textile designer mother in Zanzibar in East Africa, and The Tailor is one of five portraits Himid produced after researching the collection of West African textiles at the Gallery of Costume in Manchester Art Gallery. She presents a contemporary take on how modern-day men might wear these bright prints.
In the following film, Himid explores the roots of these textiles while discussing her 2021 installation, Lost Threads. You may wish to watch an excerpt with your students, such as from 1:07 to 4:32, in order to introduce the colonial history connected to the textiles in this installation and in The Tailor.
What might the tailor and Miss La La's outfits tell us about them? Discuss this and the following examples of clothing and costume design from other works on Art UK:
The Dandy 2010
Lubaina Himid (b.1954)
Jill (Gejiu) Zhang (b.1963)
Portrait of a Young Boy Dressed in Tartan
Paul Anderson (b.1970) 2002
Jennifer McRae (b.1959)
Indian Lady 2001
Ranjitsinh Pratapsinh Gaekwad (1938–2012)
Kuha, Native of Ngāiterangi Tribe, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Acrobats, Marrakesh, Morocco 1936
James McBey (1883–1959)
Using materials available in class (e.g. pen and paper, paint, fabric, etc.), task your students with designing a textile pattern or print that represents them or tells a story connected with their heritage, place and/or identity.
Alternatively, use one of the images to inspire Language learning. The comparative work, Miss La La at the Cirque Fernando, features a famous acrobat performing at a circus in Paris painted by French artist Edgar Degas. Extend into a Languages lesson by tasking your students with describing this painting or The Tailor in a language they have been learning in school, whether that be a Modern Language (French, German, Spanish, etc.) or a non-English native language (Gaelic, Scots, Welsh, etc.). Focus on areas of vocabulary they have learned in class, e.g. colours, appearance and clothes.