by DeeGee Lester
“Alas, I am beyond impropriety.”
—Lady Violet Grantham, Downton Abbey
For years, their parents halted everything on Sunday night, absorbed in the latest episode of Downton Abbey; they’ve overheard snippets of conversation about Lady Mary or Mr. Barrow, or heard cheers and tears when Mr. Carson married Mrs. Hughes. Now through August 4, the kids, too, have an opportunity to become absorbed in all things Downton through Cheekwood education’s camp activities surrounding the Dressing Downton exhibition.
The exhibit coincides with the unveiling of the refurnished Cheekwood mansion, sparking imaginations about life within privileged circles in the early decades of the 20th century.
“Kids can learn a lot about the era through the camp,” says Megan Rust, Cheekwood’s Public Programs Manager. “They may initially sign up for the camp because they like jewelry-making, but the kids discover how fashion is intrinsically tied to culture and to the times.”Through travels and movement within international aristocratic circles, Americans such as the Cheek family emulated the fashion standards (gloves, hats, corsets), the social standards (receiving guests in the drawing room, hosting elegant dinners and balls), and the architectural styles and design elements of the grand homes of Europe.
There are exciting camp options for various age groups. Fashion classes explore early-20th-century fashion and the basics of details such as embroidery and hand-stitching, followed by the opportunity to create their own fashion sketches. Radio Live allows students the chance to discover radio shows of the era and experiment with the fun of replicating sounds for radio dramas before trying their hand at script-writing and performing. Jewelry classes explore the history and techniques of jewelry design before designing their own. And Car Camp ties art with automobiles, offering kids a chance to see classic cars (many from Nashville’s Lane Motor Museum), and explore unique elements of body style/parts and the 20th-century introduction of assembly lines, before creating an art project.Combined with the exhibition, the camps will stir interest in a unique and elegant period and, through the Cheek family, connect it all to Nashville.
For more information, visit www.cheekwood.org.