First of all, I am very sorry about the long gap between this post and the last one. I know a high proportion of people like to read the blog on Sunday afternoons, and I haven’t been providing you with your reading lately. This has been due to the pressures of the day job – the start of term is always a lot of hard work, and various everyday life things which have required a lot of time and energy. But I am back.
One of the things that I have been working on is the Laura Ashley project, particularly the gift element, which I will post on later. I have also been working on ideas about taking the idea of art as research seriously. What would it mean if we did produce pieces of art rather than written academic papers? What would happen to the field of study, and to our careers? John Dewey, one of the great authorities on education, said that communities which do not produce art are deficient. But what happens if we try to address this? And, on the other hand, what happens if we reduce the art to mere decoration or illustration?
Well, a small element of my Laura Ashley project has been to produce some illustrations for some of the stories I have collected while doing my research – often when speaking to quilting groups. These are pictures taken with my swanky new camera, which are great, but could have done with better light. I am still experimenting with it, so please bear with me.
This was my trial piece. I often make a dry run sample to get my self sorted out if there is machine stitching to be done. That’s why this one has no legs – she was just made with an offcut which suggested the shape of the dress. It is a really bright piece of probably 80s fabric so I reversed it to give a more vintage look. Her hair is another of my beloved furnishing fabric samples. The are probably about 2×3 inches:
The faces are all made of curtain lining, and once again, just about everything here is made from fabric which would have gone into landfill.
So here are the illustrations.
I wore a dark Laura Ashley dress for a family New Year’s Eve party and it was the only time my brother-in-law ever told me I looked beautiful.
Every time we have a big family party for a birthday or an event I add another flag to the bunting and it’s almost always Laura Ashley fabric.
I went on a really romantic walk on the Downs with a new boyfriend. I was wearing a really full Laura Ashley skirt and a bee flew up it.
I made a Laura Ashley dress to go to college dance, and I made a matching tie for my then boyfriend who is now my husband.
I made tablecloths and napkins for all the big family events and celebrations.
My daughter wanted a very simple wedding. The bridesmaids wore purple Laura Ashley dresses. Years later we discovered the marriage had not been legal.
I got married in a Laura Ashley sailor dress.
One of the things I really like about this technique is that as Janet Clare, whose workshop gave me the idea, says, you just don’t know who will turn up. When you start to stitch the faces all sorts of people appear:
This one has a slight look of Lady Diana.
This one looks like someone in my office who is on maternity leave.
The woman in this one looks like a local historian of note. And I am pleased that I got just a hint of smugness.
This one doesn’t look like anyone, but does look like she is in danger of growing a moustache.
This one has a look of those 70s folk singers like Grace Slick.
I really liked the tie story. It reminded me of an old American practice I read about somewhere in which the women going to a dance would make a tie in the fabric of their ballgowns and the men would pull out a tie blindfolded. They then had to partner the woman who matched their tie, as it were:
So, I had lots of fun making these, and I think the illustrations suit the subject very well. I am thinking of putting together a self-published picture book with longer versions of the stories. I will be interested to see if they are accepted as legitimate research. I think I know the answer.