A commission using a collection of family textiles.

Imprint grew from a commission to make a new piece of work inspired by a family textile collection. I wanted to tell the stories of the clothing’s collector and preserver as much as the stories of the people who wore these garments. The reasons we keep clothes fascinates me and the multiple meanings they embody are extraordinary. It’s been a challenge to work with this family archive – initially the commissioner wanted the collection returned as a whole so I planned a work which didn’t use any of the textiles, so it was more similar to working with a museum collection. This changed over time and I was given permission to cut up anything I wished to, but by that point I was happy with the concept of not using the textiles in a destructive way, and found techniques and processes which told their stories but preserved them. In the end I did use some of the collection items in the final piece, but each is stitched but not cut, so everything I have done is reversible, in line with textile conservation practice.

The owner of the collection had worked in archives – we met when I worked in museums some 20+ years ago. I wanted to use that narrative of preservation, archiving and protection in this piece, an to create an archive of the archive. I have created a series of small paper, print and textile pieces telling stories of damage, use, fragility and human experience, presented in an A4 archive box. The pieces are presented as historical objects in an archive box with tissue or glassine between the layers, as a collection in a museum or archive would be.

The processes used include drawing, photography and digital print, cyanotype, cut paper & stitched paper and textiles. Some pieces are digital photographs printed on paper or textile with additional surface stitching. This is hard to see in the images so I hope to present this work in an somewhere where visitors can handle the work and go through the box.