Project description

Creating historically inspired garments using traditional techniques has given me insight into how we used to engage with the world around us. Creating contemporary garments of my own design marries this historical knowledge with current issues. Today, few of us make our own clothes, or indeed our own bread, tools, or furniture. Instead, we’ve embraced the readymade, mass production, and global consumerism. Through my art, I aim to combat this mass-culture, instead encouraging individuals to actively engage with their environment, focussing specifically on their clothing.

Pollution, unethical labour and the wasteful nature of fast-fashion are key issues I aim to highlight through my art. Individually handmaking our possessions presents a sustainable lifestyle, and in contrast to our usual screen-based passivity, an active, creative, rebellious way of living.

Fast-Fashion Behemoth

My performance ‘Fast-Fashion Behemoth’, executed in a public woodland, aimed to highlight the wasteful and polluting nature of fast-fashion. With a dress made of old fabric and thrown-away plastic bags, I stood, metres high, a human atop a tower of waste, the sticky fabric clinging to my body and to the green earth below.

This dress, the culmination of this body of work, depicts a human form at the peak of a plastic legacy. The tendril-like trains of plastic creep across the forest floor, like oil-slick tentacles, and encase both land and body in a web of poisonous fabric.

Fast Fashion Dress Performance in Woodland
Fast Fashion Dress Performance in Woodland
Fast Fashion Dress Performance in Woodland
Fast Fashion Dress Performance in Woodland
Fast Fashion Dress Performance in Woodland
16th Century Stays

Oil on board, 49 x 65 cm

This painting depicts a hand-made recreation of a pair of 16th century stays, rendered from life in oil paint over the course of several months. I made the recreation garment using a pattern from Janet Arnold’s 'Patterns of Fashion 5'. Using silk and linen I stayed true to historical techniques as best I could, backstitching each boning channel, and individually sewing each eyelet for the ribbon lacing up the back. Once complete, and stiffened with (fake) whalebone, I wore the stays for three days and three nights to imbue it with the form of my body.

Painting the stays was a slow and precise process, involving months of careful looking and painstaking brushstrokes. By the end, I knew the garment inside and out, and seeing it now is like looking at a familiar face. This level of intimacy with a garment is one to which we can all aspire, knowing each of our possessions like an old friend.  

A painting of a historical pair of stays

Below: Photographs of myself wearing the stays in the National Museum of Scotland

A person standing in a museum wearing a corset
A person standing in a museum wearing a corset
A person standing in a museum wearing a corset
16th Century Ruff Recreation

Exploring historical craft techniques, I recreated a ruff based on a 16th century pattern. This process was long and convoluted, involving hand-hemming five metres of linen fabric, gathering it into a frilly circle, boiling rice to make starch, then soaking, baking, ironing and setting the ruff to achieve the signature loops. I even collaborated with a blacksmith to make a replica ruff setting iron in a forge.

Images of this process can be seen below.

A handmade replica historical ruff
A collection of images documenting the process of making an historical ruff
A turn to look at our contemporary materials: plastic.

Right: X-Ray Dress. Clear plastic giving the effect of an x-ray, a look into the construction of a simple contemporary garment.

Recycled plastic bread bags, linen thread, 46 x 47 cm.

Below: Mark making with plastic. Small squares of plastic sewn with criss-crossing threads imitating warp and weft, coming to life in shadow form.

Recycled plastic bags, black thread, bulldog clips. 

A photograph of a clear plastic dress
Small squares of clear plastic with thread sewn through them
Small squares of clear plastic with thread sewn through them and shadows
Two images of a woman wearing a white dress
Shadows of Production

Carbon pencil on paper, 38 x 55 cm

This drawing portrays the darker side of the fashion industry; the hands of the unseen labourers who create the garments we buy from high street shops. Underpaid, unrecognised, they are relegated to the shadows. Meanwhile, the white dress shimmers innocently before our eyes.

The dress depicted is the same dress photographed above. I made this dress using deadstock nylon; plastic masquerading as fabric. It became the basis for the extended dress in the Fast-Fashion Behemoth woodland performance.

A drawing of a nylon dress with shadows of hands in the background
A long white dress hanging from a tree
Fast Fashion Dress Performance in Woodland
Skills & Experience
  • Five of my paintings were exhibited at the Torrance Gallery in Edinburgh, in March 2021 and September 2019.
  • A painting and a drawing of mine were exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London, in the Pastel Society exhibition, 2020, and Young Artist’s exhibition, 2013.
  • 'Red velvet', a fabric painting study in oil, which I created in 2019, was exhibited in a public exhibition at the Edinburgh Atelier of Fine Art.
  • In summer, 2018, I spent three months in Paris working in a contemporary gallery in Saint-Germain-des-Prés and producing a body of work from sculptures and paintings in the Louvre.
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Fine Art - MA (Hons)

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