Memory Dress

''Inspiration. The textile tradition then and now.''

The 'Memory Dress' was made for the American Museum in Bath. Several artists were asked to respond to the museums textile collection for an exhibition in 2001, entitled ''Inspirations. The Textile Tradition Then and Now.'' During the research my attention and imagination was drawn to the worn and faded patchwork quilts, that evoked the memories each piece of fabric embodied. Memory is the inevitable outcome of the patchwork, a theme fundamental to my own work. I used my own scrapes of fabrics, letters, diaries, drawings to make the dress. This described and followed the journey of my life. I enjoyed collecting all the bits and pieces. As I started to collage the surface of the dress the piece was telling the story. I tore up maps, letters, tickets, envelopes; I cut up fabric, old clothes, and a pillow case, at the outset arranging delicate childlike colours and textures at the top around the breasts allowing the shapes and the patterns to suggest themselves. It became darker towards the base of the piece.
At this stage the dress was a very rigid cone shape. I laid it on the floor and ripped out the inner layers of white fabric that formed the structure of the piece. I was left with a delicate shell of fabrics. The holes that had formed became places for photos of my family to peep through, partly obscured. I formed pockets of net which were filled with examples of the detritus of one's life, shells, feathers, a lock of hair, postage stamps, bits of jewellery and old coins. I imagine that I will keep adding to the dress over time too, maybe stitching as well as collaging ideas into the surface.

To read more about this project go to Memory Dress Project

This piece has recently been purchased by The Atheneum Hotel, Piccadily, London.