click on main image to link to main blog

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.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Documentation of the day-to-day as it happens - collecting together the stored, saved and neglected – viewing the past with hindsight. At Suffolk Record Office within HC23/E1/1 – a package of Letters and papers, chiefly notes, instructions or correspondence regarding the use of James Smyth and Sons Ltd machines - I was drawn to a tracing of a drill part on an aged semi-transparent paper – it sat within a bundle of papers, receipts, carbon copies of similar quality - its fragility somehow mirroring the very idea of time and loss – the actual works and a way of life have all gone – this was particularly poignant as it was in my village and the site now a range of ‘luxury houses’ built on it! 

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Day one at Museum of East Anglian Life (MEAL) was another session of trying to contain the scope of the materials that could be part of the project - I encountered vast store rooms, think that last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark but more cluttered. Managed to look at some high quality smocks. The discussion with Lisa focused on the minute construction discrepancies within the garments and deconstructing the meaning of marks on the smocks to develop a number of narratives. 
There are examples of cloth being joined and then subsequently smocked. Interesting to see how the joining has almost being ignored in relationship to the overall aesthetics of the garment and how this join affects the repetitive design of the smocking.
MEAL have a system within their categorisation that includes drawn images on the back of index cards as an aid to identifying/cross referencing the objects - something to follow up.
They have a smock that was used as a prop/costume in amateur dramatics, the make up around the collar is the give away, but this highlights the idea of the smock as a symbol of "rural-ness". If you want to identify a character as being rural put them in a smock. I am going to track down some photographs of Am-Dram as a strand of the research.

Thursday, 8 November 2012


A revelation around the fabric choice and materials in general I will use within the project - I’ve decided that they will be ones that are usually hidden within the garments or used within the conservation/storage of objects. 
When the choice of materials can be anything rules and concepts are important to enable you to focus what you will work with. The idea of the hidden within the fold is the link to this decision. It also has interesting political and aesthetic factors embedded within this choice around issues of quality and value.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


a day at The Textiles research centre - a session with actual objects that I have requested to view - difficult to convey how exciting it is to handle the objects that were earlier an ascension number and short description.
Where to start - after a long conversation with volunteers and archivists about the project, focusing on ways of accessing the collection, and cataloguing which led to ideas around blogging tags, crowd sourcing, turning ICOM into a diagram/family tree and translation from artists language to curator/archivist language I got to have boxes opened by the very wonderful and knowledgeable Lisa.
After spending time with the smocks which were the starting point of the project and obviously they are extraordinary objects. I was pleased that I had chosen 'the best' examples In the collection - the richness of the materials and structure were obvious. Highlights were - NWHCM : 1969.47 - dressmaking or tailoring samples which was in a box (CT1020) which contained examples of sewing and garment construction - much of it in parts, 'apprentice' pieces as part of courses or as examples to aid in the passing exams or to get work.
Sidelines that took over today were issues of wear and tear and ageing on the garments. How the garments had worn away told you much about the people who had worn them and the world they lived in, the very basic fixing that had taken place held many stories.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


The initial obsession with date classification that I have  encountered within curatorial circles has led me to ICOM – a system used within museums for categorising – the terminology and classification is fascinating – I'm particularly drawn to the line drawings – there is a body of work to be done here – especially around the mapping of how I work within the collections http://www.collectionslink.org.uk/assets/thesaurus_icombts/vbt00e.htm  I’m thinking about some sort of animation constructed from diagrams linked to labels.
How we catalogue the work within collections obviously has a history – from my reading and talking with curators (esp Ruth Battersby Tooke) the move from science based hierarchical thinking around the construction and reading of collections towards a more individual contextual understanding appears to of coincided with the breaking down of social barriers and the rise of valuing the individual in society.  The fact that each objects reference point can change with each viewing is something to consider in relation to mapping a way through the collections. Each object has a seemingly infinite number of stories attached and each personal truth illustrates multiple connections and possibly demonstrates what and how we value the objects around us.  This constantly shifting reconceptualising is a challenge to the rigours of traditional cataloguing.
Meanwhile I’ve been sidetracked by a wonderful punch less binder - ACCOGRIP – that was holding a set of paper patterns.