Diary Dresses

Extract from writings about her work

'I have a collection of body shapes, dressmakers dummies, mannequins, that are adapted in various ways, its very low tech! I use cling film a lot, and plastic to pad out the shapes and lots of PVA glue. I then collage papers or fabrics onto the forms and let them dry, then peel them off, join up the gaps, then suspend them. I can then start to develop the shape and surface by layering fabrics. I burn the surface, I bleach it, slash it or roll it up in the the mud and rebuild it, cut it up and reassemble it. I add all sorts of different materials, wax I use a lot, glass, shells and leaves, old jewellery, my diaries, flowers. It is a process of transformation, a kind of alchemy and a kind of poetry that lives latent within the materials. However, there is always some story being told during the making of the piece. I make decisions according to how right they feel for the story.'

'I make very idealised shapes. The dresses are too slim, the waists are small, the breasts full, the hips curvy, its a kind of fantasy, but there is always some kind of violence demonstrated on these forms. I think this emphasises the vulnerability or the danger of the fantasy, the dresses are empty after all! I don't draw or design the work before I make it although I do a lot of drawing in sketchbooks which are a bit like diaries... the ideas come from anything, just a feeling from watching someone or seeing an image in a magazine or a newspaper article that strikes a cord and the linking of connections within different thoughts.'

'Two dresses are made from my diaries, written when I was about 17, 18 & 19. I had kept them all but had never really looked at them since, so they got recycled whilst I was reading them again. It was very interesting. A diary holds some of your thoughts and secret fears, though some of it read 'went shopping and had chicken for dinner', but parts of it were so sad, and its hard to forget that sadness. I think that is where the slashes come from! I wanted to make sense of and give some idea of the intensity if feelings and thoughts that I was experiencing. Tearing them up and making the dresses from them gives them a new lease of life, it is also a way of dealing with them. Its kind of tantalising now trying to piece the bits together, to see how much of a risk I have taken using them.
How much does it expose me?
How much does a dress expose the wearer?
The Mulberry Diary below, was burnt and now looks a little like an animal skin. This dress was part of an installation at Mulberry and is made from my old diaries and are lined with empty pages from old Mulberry diaries.