The Dancing Years

When Are You Going to Grow Up? Detail.
When Are You Going to Grow Up? Detail.

 Exploring the Teens & Twenties.

I have always found the years covering the teens & twenties to be the most interesting to explore in my work. These are the years when adulthood is approaching & the subject is exploring & trying on a range of identities which will all be, to some extent, influential in the formation of the adult identity. ¬†Each of our lives grows through the narrative of the different identities we adopt at different ages. None of these stages ever entirely vanishes. All survive as layers of the subsequent faces that we wear. Identity persists throughout our lives, even when aspects of it are not visible. The persona exists in 4 dimensions, rather than just 3, passing continuously through time rather than just as a series of snapshots, taken at isolated moments. All the identities we try on in our youth will persist, throughout our lives, adding nuance & complexity to the overall drift of life’s narrative.

Narrative itself also forms an important part of my work. Each piece of work has a series of stories to tell, some with slightly bitter humour, some sad, some amusing. The purpose of text in my work is to tell the stories that I need to tell but I also like to include text because I find it is visually appealing in its own right. The use of handwriting makes the storytelling more direct & gives the speaker her own voice. Many of the stories are part of the narrative of my own growing up years or borrowed from friends & family.

When Are You Going to Grow Up?
When Are You Going to Grow Up?

This piece is based on a fashion garment dating from the early 70’s which is part of my own collection, & was regarded as very peculiar by my mother. Not by me of course. I still have it in my wardrobe.

A Dress to Go Bopping.
A Dress to Go Bopping.
Happy Bell.
Hippy Daze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two images of garments telling stories from the late 1960’s, both based on contemporary garments from my own wardrobe.

Stepping Out Again

Stepping Out Again

 

This piece of work, based on my best coat from the late 60’s is one which I have worked 5 times, each time with a different focus & telling different stories, This one covers days out shopping & nights out dancing & features the effort required to get ready for each one. It contains lots of free machine embroidery & reverse applique.

Stepping Out Tonight 4.
Stepping Out Tonight 4.

This is an older version of the same garment but tells some different tales & some the same. The colours always vary because so much of the fabric is recycled or surfaces are built up from a collection of fragments.

Dolly Birds (detail).
Dolly Birds (detail).

All these pieces of work are made by overlayering scraps of silk from my collection of vintage fabrics with other contemporary materials & free-machining stories, pictures & designs over them. These are artificially distressed so that a variety of fabrics are exposed. This is to demonstrate that many different layers of experience comprise identity at any one time. It also indicates the wearing away of memory. As our retained items of clothes become worn with time & experience our memories of the events they relate to become worn & changed through handling & re-examination. This particular design incorporates a number of pieces of old Indian silk, echoing the fascination with Indian culture that existed among the young in the late 60’s.

Flower Power.
Flower Power.

 

This piece also includes some computer designed stitch & digitally generated text.

Sandra's Getting Engaged
Sandra’s Getting Engaged.

This piece of work explores stories & gossip around an engagement of the early seventies & looks at the popular fashions of the time.

WARDROBE OF memoties
Wardrobe of Memories

 

We'll Always Carry Our Kinky Boots in Our Hearts.
We’ll Always Carry Our Kinky Boots in Our Hearts.

These two waistcoats also follow the Indian influence while exploring late 1960’s culture from the point of view of girls & young women. Lots of reverse applique was used in these two pieces.

What Did You Get for Your 21st?
What Did You Get for Your 21st?

Why Have You Just Played Cinderella Rockafella 7 Times in Succession?

Why Have You Just Played Cinderella Rockafella 7 Times in Succession?

 

 

These 2 negligee pieces both use questions to discuss very important to a 21 year old at a time when that was the age of coming of age. One discusses irritations & questions why house keeping tasks are so difficult & why no one else ever does them. The other is all about highlights & lowlights of a 21st birthday.

The Time When I Was Tall.
The Time When I Was Tall.

This piece of work about a 70’s smock explores the advantages of the fashions of the time, including the wearing of very high platform shoes with long, wide trousers covering them . This was the only time in her life when a short girl could feel normal.

Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots