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Thursday, 20 December 2012


I've started to look at the photographic collection at MEAL - the key appears to be people - providing a context for the objects and showing how the clothes are worn – buttoned up, laced, folded and creased on the body - individuals stare back at you from the past – seeming to be searching for answers. I am also looking, and we appear to meet somewhere, in a place between knowing and not knowing.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


Another wonderful day at MEAL - as ever it has provided a space for deliberation and eventually a number of solutions to some of the issues that I've been battling with. Three bonnets, one with structure provided with miniature pleating, one with string held within the fabric - an exciting example of cording - the other with wire providing structure but also with some parts of it becoming an element of decoration.
This all connects with the structure of a corset I've seen at the costume museum in Norwich and demonstrates how to bring physical stiffness to the fabric experiments I've been working on so far. 
Adding structural internal 'scaffolding' is a whole area so I’ll have to really consider if this is a direction that the project should/could go.
Time and reflection whilst physically being with the objects in the collection enables links to flow - fixings and the leather work in both a leather corset and the gaiters today have highlighted the detective storytelling that I have engaged in - the 'what is this for' element of the looking.  
Attempting to work out what the objects do, how they work or which elements function in what ways has become an unexpected element of the project. Which in turn highlights how little one knows about the everyday of the past.

Friday, 14 December 2012


A day at the castle in the study centre - it was good to show the work I have created so far - getting feedback – interesting to undertake a form of tutorial. The intention was to find the next step – to focus on the next objects to view by looking at what I had made after being exposed to the collection. The pleat, edges, thread and joining were highlighted and became the brief for the next stage. Ruth and Liz are very knowledgeable and understand the nuances of the collection and this project would obviously be less rich or would I say almost impossible without their input. They directed me to a leather corset - linking to the leather work at MEAL and through its construction the many connections I had made to thread and stitch.
I spend a while with a box containing sewing kits with their many pockets, folds and hidden spaces. This related to a lot of the structural work I have been making and connected to the similar structures I had found in some notebooks at MEAL and a journal of a poet/writer at the Suffolk Record Office.
I sat in on a presentation by Ruth to a WEA group on 18th Century Dress which was really informative and gave me a chance to reflect on the project – to not be in charge – I came away thinking about structure and display and how to develop these ideas with the pieces paper I'm working on. 
The highlight for me was a box of lace pickings. Lace is obviously so laden with meaning around and about work and for me a signifier of class but these objects put the process and the workers at the centre of the story. Constructed from pricked velum and salvaged off cuts of cloth, poorly made with stitches showing, the objects are magical, transporting the handler to another time and connecting to makers - truly wonderful - I had to leave after spending time with them as they were so overpowering.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


I've been looking at the vast collection of photographs of folded and creased documents that I have amassed over the past month. The images taken in the three archives and collections tell a story of once functional, everyday documents passing through many hands, the edges and layers exposing the patina of time. I've been recreating these then photographing and scanning. Have also been working with sublimation printing and the heat press - transferring onto fabric the marks of ageing - the image of thread, crease and the fold exists as a form of trace, leaving the marks without their physical presence. In some way this references the experience of the material itself. 

Saturday, 8 December 2012


A thought - is it possible to physically change an object just by thinking about it.
Every object in each collection I'm looking at has many stories; each one delivers the viewer new contexts and presents new possible functions. Functionality of an object is something that is constructed in the mind through collective use and understanding. As the functionality of an object can change in the mind, changing our perception of and relationship to the object. Does this in some way physically change the object?
This connects to ideas around transubstantiation, the act of partaking in consuming the body and blood of Christ through eating a wafer and drinking wine. Also the piece of work by Michael Craig Martin titled Oak Tree which consists of a glass of water on a glass shelf and a text debating the idea of faith, symbolism and trust. Just checked this out and nice to see that Nicholas Serota also made the link – ‘it certainly reminds us that the appreciation of all art involves an act of faith comparable to the belief that, through transubstantiation, the bread and wine of Holy Communion become the body and blood of Christ’

Friday, 7 December 2012


having folded, creased, smocked and sewn a range of samples I spend some time using sublimation dye onto/into them with the help of a heat press. I’ve spent the day unpicking them and thinking about narrative of process, evidence, time and history. The colour is wonderfully garish and unlike ‘my own work’! Whatever that means now. Really pleased with how they look – deciding now how to develop this work, considering notions of repetition and bringing together different aspects of the project such as pockets with folding, hidden with transparency and joining with display.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


Looking at my notes that derive from conversations with people working within archives. 

A thing is just a thing without a story
Not knowing about an object is the most interesting part 
The rules of acquisition free one from guilt

Learning from making is something that I constantly tell the students I work with to think about and act on - this new body of work, where I have positioned myself outside my 'traditional' knowledge, requires me to learn skills and develop strategies to move my work forward. I feel that I am following the advice I give my students - an interesting position but/and it feels good!

It will be exciting to pull all this together but I am resisting this action so that I can let ideas flow as far as they possibly can before I rein them in.

A mid moment mission statement might come from a conversation with a student the other day - Creating work whose purpose is far greater than an object with dimensions.


another day at MEAL overwhelmed, tired and excited by all that I have seen – Lisa who works there is really in my head now and suggesting wonderful items for me to look at 
highlights today include an hour with a box of paper documents, mainly note books used as diaries, accounts and lists. As ever I started looking at their structure but ended up reading and getting into the heads of people going about their lives in this part of the world 100 years ago – sobering and very moving. The most extraordinary addition to one page was a thin piece of paper with a corrected text pinned to the page so that it covered the change of heart. 
 A saddle, never having picked one up I was surprised by the weight but the layers of leather and stitching presented some exciting possibilities – and again I was struck by the amount of dead animals needed to fuel the everyday in the past, the bundles of horses hairs, bound and organised added to this thought.  Making connections between pockets and notebook structures in my notes.

Sunday, 25 November 2012


A huge learning of skills day - practising creating pockets using paper and lining materials - making parallels and connections between tailoring and the world of experimental book production. Thinking about repetition and multiple elements brought together within and joined to a structure, a combination of pages set in a spine and the idea of the swatch.
Really excited about the possibilities presented by the box pleat and I've been enjoying thinking about its relationship to the concertina fold - similar but different - time and space bending in on itself - spaces of folded time rather than the clear and relentless linear march of the leporello. large rolls from MEAL. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


Intriguing day at MEAL - starting the day in the large object store - which is as it says on the tin - its a shed full of large objects - starting points were a comically large set of bellows, an apple picking basket - part wood part sack, piles of hessian sacks and a leather suitcase.
After a visit to the newly refurbished Abbots Hall  http://eastanglianlife.org.uk/ - which has some wonderful, unusual displays including St Audreys asylum and one outcome of Pacitti Companies Olympian commission - a room of silver charms - exquisite.http://www.pacitticompany.com/
The afternoon - The small object store... yes a store full of small objects. So many wonderful objects to look at so just settled into the costume and clothes which still left me reeling.
The day was full of good thoughtful conversations with Liz around the idea of collecting for the future and what that means emotionally for a curator/archivist. The idea of context came up again - that place is so much a part of our understanding of an object - site specificity - that an object has many stories and changes with each piece of knowledge - I posited that the object actually physically changes.
Land army breeches, riding habit, wren and red cross nurses uniforms, flying suits, Stowmarket's answer to the Barbour  jacket - the husky, riding breeches, and servants aprons. This all sounds like a list of clothing items from a dubious film set. But the fixings, pockets and gatherings were all very exciting.

Sunday, 18 November 2012


The construction of garments and the hidden nature of the structure is the latest thread in my research – the pleat, hem, tuck and dart and how the 2D paper plan is translated to the 3D object are now ideas to consider – I have started to make paper versions to build my skill base and to see how they could be connected to ideas of book.
This activity of translation is mapped within the archives at the record office in the drawings of plans of buildings that I have been looking at – 2D to 3D or is it 3D to 2D  as a way of documenting, disseminating and then informing others of your ideas?

Friday, 16 November 2012


A day of totally over the top pleating and gathering at the study centre with objects from the handling collection and dresses from the 1800s.  
I became fascinated by the hidden internal structures within pattern cutting that create shapes around and on the body which simultaneously present themselves on the surface of the garment as decoration.
CT3462 presented the idea of building structure within the material itself, creating a surface but more so a material that has a physicality that could be manipulated.
The crepe acts as a sort of shadow on the body, conceptually sucking in the light - blurring the form - creating a 'fuzzy' line on the body’s silhouette.
The garment that really encompassed a lot of the ideas I’m involved in was a 'handmade' dress with some huge box pleats that were attached to the main body of the dress in such a way that they hung in a way that celebrated their structure.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


In the record office in Ipswich I almost abandoned any theory around the starting points and resorted to reading the descriptions within the folders opposite the desk (the second stage of searching after the card index). This has been a really successful research methodology as it has turned up a number of excellent things to think about from being able to view a very specific way of adding a seal to a document that I have been looking for to a revelation of new ways of fixing or joining individual papers together, HD/42/7/2/8 – a will and documents held with a metal pin joining. I was particularly absorbed by HD79/AA1/6/1-19 which had an interesting ways of joining with slits a number of folded documents that had been signed within and over the fold and slit.
The never ending record of names, places, dates and human activity – sitting in the record office and at this moment I am subsumed within the legal world of deeds and the documentation of exchanges of property and money between people – totally overwhelming and trying to find the individual narrative is challenging as there is so much individual activity in the form of names long forgotten that there is little space to find one’s own story. There is so much stuff – an almost endless tide of human activity.
The physicality of the objects I have requested today have heavily imposed on my soul – I have felt the presence of the people who owned them, embellishing and burnishing their covers with repeated use, touching and handling, - HD79/B3 – a blacksmiths account book – an aged tool representing hours, days, weeks, years of toil, metal, heat and sweat. HD79/B7 a small note book with examples of Suffolk silk lovingly held in with slits cut from the actual pages. These are annotated with notes about the diet of the worms. This is probably something that my project isn’t about – but.......... one can’t help but be moved by their presence.