‘Trade’ Nov 2016 (paper sewing patterns, & thread)


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This is an installation of a collection of sewing paper patterns, something that is not used or known about that much unless your working in fashion. These particular ones are from an age the 30’s to the 70’s when the UK, particularly the North still had working Mills filled predominantly with women working long hours for very little pay to creating fabrics.

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I have used both the patterns and the title ‘Trade’ as a symbol or metaphor for a number of ideas, relating to workhouses, cotton mills, feminism and slave trade. the conditions in which they worked were not healthy, and many would become ill with chest problems due to the fibres in the air. This industry has been greatly diminished within the west as it costs more to produce due to health and safety and a fair working wage. Although the trade hasn’t stopped it has just changed countries and is now being created in countries that do not have as stringent health and safety regulations and where there is an abundant of mainly women willing to work for very little pay.

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As a collection they tell a story of mass and over production, which is something else created by capitalism and our throw away society.  As individuals they give us a history of the garment once created from them.




I have hung them in a figurative and ephemeral way,partly lit by a lamp, as a crowd to walk through and be part of, this interaction makes these images animated.By hanging these shapes which each represent a possible human being, a ghostly image or a presence that is there but ignored, we walk among people and use these garments everyday without a thought, but the presence of that person is there.


This was not my original piece to show, but came about from experimenting with items I had acquired from a seamstress. They also have a close relationship with my interest in ruins, and over production of waste. It was while playing with these cut out shapes that the images of women working in the mills creating the fabrics for these patterns came to mind.

It is a work that is just in its beginning stages and is something I am looking at pushing and exploring further.



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