A meeting with managers from Suffolk County Council has expanded the project into the idea of developing site specific interventions for the particular spaces; Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft Record Offices. Next move is to have visits to all the sites to check out the spaces and to see what is appropriate - already some things aren't really possible due to motion sensors. It was good to show the work, finally its out of the studio. It was great to get such a positive reaction to a what was a very small part of the work I have made so far. Also on the cards is developing a connection with the public, working out how to talk about connectivity and the specific approach I have taken in exploring the objects, which is very different to how the usual users of the record offices operate. This will take the form of illustrated talks, displays and workshops.
Meanwhile page 3 of the manual.
The Museum of East Anglian Life has a smock that came to the collection after its use as a prop/costume in amateur dramatics, this is supported by the narrative that came with the object and the theatrical 'make up' around the collar.1 This highlights the idea of the smock as a symbol of the countryside. If you want to identify a character as being rural put them in a smock. This is unfortunately also often a short cut for an individual who is deemed to be foolish or unintelligent.2
1 - STMEA:2013-7
2 - On the 13th June 1851 the London Times reported on the remarkable visit to the great exhibition by over 800 agricultural labourers and country folk wearing their smartest smock-frocks.
The commentaries tone implied that the ‘rustics’ were seen very much as 'other' and unlike anything that could of being produced from any part of England, although they behaved themselves to the satisfaction of the organisers who had expected vandalism from these strangers thus the occasion demonstrates the separation of town and country and the wearing of the smock being a marker of that difference.
Eventually the loose garment became impractical and dangerous to wear near the new machinery. The smock was abandoned as the movement from the rural to city that was a part of the industrialisation of the land brought with it a fear of ridicule.
The smock, originally an item worn as a practical garment for agricultural labourers became a symbol of earthiness worn by bohemian crafts people of the Aesthetic movement. Adopted by the friends of Oscar Wilde and William Morris who himself promoted the smock as a protest against the man-made of the machine age. Incidentally Morris was taken to the Great Exhibition by his mother but refused to enter on the grounds that he would find nothing but meretricious rubbish.
Marshall, Beverly. 1980. Smocks and Smocking. Van Nostrand Rheinhold.