Exhibitions & Installations

Textile Narratives; Stories Stitched in Thread.

Drumcroon, Wigan.

2010

Val Jackson & Jane Mckeating.

In and Out The Soppy Bluebells. The Story of a 1950's Childhood.
In and Out The Soppy Bluebells. The Story of a 1950’s Childhood.

Most of my work uses garments & mementoes to tell stories relating to particular aspects of my identity fixed to the time & situation represented by the base the they are stitched on to. This double quilt sizes piece, originally made for the New International Quilt Exhibition at the Shipley Gallery in Gateshead, 2004, is scattered with objects, each telling its story of a childhood during that period. As well as clothed & accessories they include the house I lived in as a child, the car my father sweated to keep together & working until I was 8, the caravan my parents hired for a touring holiday in Scotland when I was 9, & a picture of me in my junior school uniform. A whole childhood, looking increasingly like ancient history, is here.

Display of children's dresses from my childhood suspended in large bay window.
Display of children’s dresses from my childhood suspended in large bay window.
An arrangement of Childhood Garments in the main room at Drumcroon.
An arrangement of Childhood Garments in the main room at Drumcroon.

 Tidal,

With Markmakers at the Brindley Arts Centre, Halton, 2008.

For this exhibition I produced an installation of textile & collage pieces examining my lifelong links with the Mersey estuary and themes surrounding loss & letting go. It was an immensely sad series of work because its central theme was the death of my husband some years previously & the gradual letting go of the moorings that held me to him for a long time after.

Group of Collaged & free-Machine Embroidered Pieces Discussing Personal Links to the Mersey Esyuary.
Group of Collaged & Free-Machine Embroidered Pieces Discussing Personal Links to the Mersey Estuary.

This group consists of four pieces made with tissue paper collage, with writing in ink & pencil to tell the stories,& two pieces in machine embroidered layered & distress ed fabrics. The pieces together read as a series of elements of my story, from left to right. The outer pieces are calm & reminiscent,becoming more emotional towards the centre so that the whole echoes passing through a storm then out into calmer waters.

Embellished Merchant Navy Jacket Made in Layered & Distressed silk.
Embellished Merchant Navy Jacket Made in Layered & Distressed silk.
Merchant Navy Cap made in Layered Distressed Silk Embellished with Free-Machine Embroidery.
Merchant Navy Cap made in Layered Distressed Silk Embellished with Free-Machine Embroidery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pieces tell stories about the Merchant Navy of the 1960’s with the kind of wry humour common to most of my work. They list all the ports his ship visited in the course of his last ses voyage before moving to a job ashore in 1969. The imagery is all connected to the sea & to the Brocklebank line for which he worked. The intent is to convey the verve & fun that had preceded  more serious & then sadder times later.

Detail of Jacket Showing Free-Machine Embellishment.
Detail of Jacket Showing Free-Machine Embellishment.

 

Cabinet of Curiosities. Markmakers.

Warrington Museum & Gallery. 2014.

3 Digitally Programmed Pieces Stitched on A coputer Programmed Sewing Meachine.
3 Digitally Programmed Pieces Stitched on A computer Programmed Sewing Machine.

This exhibition was based on the Museum’s Anthropology Collection. Each member had to choose a piece & make some work influenced by it. My work was titled May All Your Dreams Come True. It was based on a pair of carved, wooden tribal statues  which are thought to have been made to give to a witch doctor to help him cure a problem that the chief was suffering from. It is likely that the chief was not able to be father so his generative organs were carved very large to make it apparent what was to be cured. The carver has also provided the chief with a beautiful young wife to help him in his endeavours. My central piece of work provides the chief with the family of his dreams.

The work is made from images programmed digitally & stitched out on transparent fabric to give it a dreamy air of mystery. A range of different shades are provided by  varying density of layered voiles as well as different colours.

Quilt Art.

From 2008 I was A member of Quilt Art, an international exhibition group which aims to use quilting methods & media in ways that push the bounds of the genre, moving it upwards from a craft to art.

Quilt Art at 25, 2010-2013

Rites of passage.

My work for this series of exhibitions was based on the various landmark event of maturing into an adult: the first job, the wedding, buying a car & buying a house.

The pieces are constructed from layered silk & embellished with free-machine embroidery. Each piece tells a number of stories that were part of these events for me. They take a wryly humorous view of life & feature for example a selection of catty comments overheard at weddings & discuss the problems encountered on finding a home for two very different sets of interests.

Interview Suit Made From Layered Recycled Silk addressing the Most Common Question Asked of Girls Applying for Jobs At That Time However Well Qualified.
Interview Suit Made From Layered Recycled Silk addressing the Most Common Question Asked of Girls Applying for Jobs At That Time However Well Qualified.
Detail of Work
Detail of Work
Detail of Work.
Detail of Work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying a First House
Buying a First House
Mark 1
Mark 1
The Best Day of Your Life.
The Best Day of Your Life.

This piece features lots of characters from the wedding photographs including bridesmaid, groom, mother, mother-in-law,minister & some friends of the bride The embroidered characters are especially intricate on this piece.

Exhibition Layout in Heidelberg
Exhibition Layout in Heidelberg

 

MA Stage 3 Work & Final Exhibition

Layers in transparent fabrics showing a number of aspects simultaneously.
Layers in transparent fabrics showing a number of aspects simultaneously.

 

My work for the MA was based around the study of identity. I was particularly concerned with the identities permitted to women and the ways in which they are altered to take account of external circumstances. The subject or my final body of work was the interface between 2 alternative identities brought about by major events & their effects on the lives of women. At the time this work was done I was emptying my mother’s house, following her death. My mother was not a person who threw much away & my finds included a mass of saved clothes, some going back 70 years, and boxes of wartime letters as well as a journal documenting part of her time in the RAF where she was a wireless operator, using Morse code. One box of letters contained both sides or the correspondence between my my parents from before the time of their meeting in 1944 until their marriage just before Christmas in 1945.

These helped me to document my mother’s transition from a skilled operative doing an important job & travelling the country by train in way previously not available to young women & a housewife trapped alone in the service of a house at a time of great shortage difficulties. My work represents an exploration of these two positions in the lives of women & the arbitrary nature of its imposition.

I did this by producing 3 installations of varying work, each including contemporary clothing & some transparent fabrics, retailing different aspects of my mother’s life at that time & telling its story, often in her own words & handwriting.

The picture above shows a detail of one group. The writing is digitally generated in a machine stitch computer programme from extracts from her letters & journal & allows my mother to speak directly to the viewer in her own voice.

Wartime Dressmaking.
Wartime Dressmaking.

Digitally printed fabric for underwear.
Digitally printed fabric for underwear.
Digitally printed silk fabric for underwear.
Digitally printed silk fabric for underwear.

This group includes dresses & underwear made from genuine 1940’s patterns. One is an expensive, difficult pattern from Vogue for those who could afford a dressmaker. The other is made from a very badly planned pattern in a “How to Stitch Your Whole Family Wardrobe” books popular at the time. This dress was a nightmare because the carefully drawn pattern pieces I made from a grid turned out to be entirely wrong so that there was no way the back could possibly be able to fit onto the front. People must have been very adaptable in those days. The fabrics are digitally printed cottons & silk patterned with Lancaster bombers, uniforms & bombs. The fabrics used for the knickers are covered with very tiny bombs in attractive colours so that the material looks pretty from a distance but horrific close too.

Installation  with replicate WRAF uniform made in contemporary curtain material.
Installation with replicate WRAF uniform made in contemporary curtain material.

The uniform in this group is a remake of a genuine wartime WRAF. The buttons & belt buckle are remakes of the originals & the badges are digitally generated versions made on a home embroidery machine. The fabric is the remain of a roll of genuine curtain material dating from the 1940’s, found when clearing my Grandmother’s house.

3 different remakes of a genuine 1945 nightdress using different fabrics.
3 different remakes of a genuine 1945 nightdress using different fabrics.

The fabrics used are digitally printed versions of an adaptation of the original fabric, produced on different scales, over-printed with extracts from my mother’s writing discussing the future with an often ill-founded optimism.

 

Detail of nightdress fabric showing digital print & stitch.
Detail of nightdress fabric showing digital print & stitch.

 

The Link Gallery, Manchester Metropolitan University. 2013OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Link Gallery, Manchester Metropolitan University. 2013.

Adaptation of genuine contemporary badges.
Adaptation of genuine contemporary badges.