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Be Yourself; Everyone Else is Already Taken

Coventry City of Culture Trust and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum are delighted to present “Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken” by the Coventry born artist, designer and activist Daniel Lismore.

This exhibition in his hometown is the first time that his work has gone on display in the UK.


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Close up of a Daniel Lismore sculptural headpiece featuring a can of Campbell's tomato soup  Daniel Lismore sculpture featuring a full-length black skirt, ruffled black top and cape, a bright orange dome around the neck and a wide-brimmed red hat  Daniel Lismore sculpture in profile featuring a feathered blue scarf, gold disc-shaped earrings and an 18th century-style hat loaded with red and black feathers

​(Imagery from Daniel Lismore's book 'Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken.' Photo credit - Colin Douglas Gray, courtesy of SCAD)

The exhibition features a major installation ‘An Army of My Life’, which takes inspiration from the Terracotta Army, and features 50 3D sculptures, each of which are modelled on the artist and including a cast of his face, manifestations of Lismore’s life living as sculpture.

The life-size (6’4”) sculptures are fashioned in Lismore’s elaborate and extravagant ensembles, expressions of body adornment and conceptual thinking. They combine haute couture with items from his personal collection of nearly 7,000 unique curiosities, including charity-shop finds, yards of vintage fabrics and found objects.

The exhibition will examine social, historical and cultural themes central to Lismore’s work and life living as sculpture. He has been a noted advocate of sustainable fashion, which sits at the heart of his artistic practice, a design philosophy that espouses creative re-use, upcycling of materials and reduction of impact on the environment. His relationships with creative communities around the world also inform his work and activism.

Daniel Lismore dressed in a purple sculptural ensemble with an armoured gauntlet leaning against one of his sculptures featuring a metal helmet and covered in gold embellishments Daniel Lismore feathered sculptural ensemble in shades of pink with bright coloured jewellery and a straw hat Daniel Lismore sculptural ensemble featuring multicoloured skirts, a layered hat with black and white stripes and spots, a Betty Boop handbag and a skull perched on the shoulder.

Lismore has been called ‘England’s most eccentric dresser’ by Vogue, exhibited around the world, and has designed costumes for the English National Opera. He was Creative Director of luxury label Sorapol where he dressed Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, Naomi Campbell, Cara Delevingne, Adam Ant and Boy George amongst others. Many of the pieces designed for his celebrity clientele will be on display in Coventry.

A specially made publication for the UK premiere of the exhibition, and Coventry UK City of Culture, will explore, excavate and celebrate Daniel’s unique journey from being raised in Coventry through to international fame. This will feature previously unseen private archive & materials including photos, found objects, ephemera, artworks & sketchbooks, personal materials documenting his journey from schooldays through adolescence - a tapestry of his journey from childhood to his true self living as sculpture.

“Be Yourself; Everyone Else Is Already Taken” was first presented in 2016, co-curated by Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) Atlanta USA and exhibited at SCAD FASH: Museum of Fashion and Film. Since its original presentation, the exhibition has been presented in Basel Miami 2016, Iceland 2018, Naples 2019 and Poland in November 2019. For this homecoming exhibition, many of the work will be enhanced and expanded, with previously unseen works on display.

Find out more about Daniel Lismore