Because she knows that I am interested in Laura Ashley and am in the middle of working on a piece using the fabric, my good friend, the wise and beautiful Becky (seriously, she is both) gave me this little bundle of cloth, including some genuine LA lace. It was a really nice gesture, as I am collecting the fabric at the moment, but I also loved it for its presentation. Dressmakers like my Aunt Pauline, who specialised in exquisite children’s clothes in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as bridal dresses, used to wrap the remnants into bundles like this and I made lots of dolls’ clothes from such packets. So this is a familiar way of receiving fabric for me. What I thought was interesting about this, though, was that it had the feel of a sacred relic, like something you might find in an ethnographic museum. I recently went to the remarkable Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford which is full of weird looking things bound up in cloth and leather (http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk/). This led me to thinking that it would be interesting to make some pieces with the bound up cloth to think about the meaning attached to these fabrics, which clearly mean so much to the women who are talking about them or sharing them with me. If I put a sepia tint on this bundle it wouldn’t be out of place in an ethnographic collection:
So an idea for a new piece of work suggested by a gift from a friend. The notion of the gift economy is getting stronger in this piece of research and I haven’t really even started it.