Stitching a Life

Val Jackson.

Embroiderer and Textile Artist.      

A group of little girls' dresses based on the ones I wore in the 1950's
A group of little girls’ dresses based on the ones I wore in the 1950’s

 

I am a textile artist using a variety of methods & materials. My main tool & medium is the sewing machine of which I use a number including a standard sewing machine for free-machine embroidery, a more sophisticated model which can be utilized in conjunction with a computer design programme, an embellisher and an American Irish embroidery machine.

The picture above shows a series of pieces from my 1950’s Childhood Series. These were made using layered silk fabrics & saved pieces of contemporary fabrics. They tell stories of my memories of events & situations of the time, illustrated by small coloured sketches. These were produced using a standard straight & zigzag machine & free-machine embroidery. They have been deliberately aged with rubbing blocks to reveal the layers of fabric beneath. These represent all the different layers the developing identity passes through at the time. The wear represents the way that memory wears away, changing with successive recollections through time.

Digitally Generated Machine Embroidery

Digitally generated stitchout taken from sketches examining women's identity in the 1950's
Digitally generated stitchout taken from sketches examining women’s identity in the 1950’s

 

These machine stitched images were produced on a machine with its embroidery unit in place. Much of the work I have done in this way is in exploration of the changing identity of women, in this case an example of the pressures put on women during the 1950’s to be subservient to their husbands & devote their lives to servicing their homes & families The illustrations are mainly taken from sketches made in a number of museums though a few are of garments from my own collection. My mother had saved a number of garments which were too important to her to dispose of & when clearing her house after her death I retained as many as I was able. Clothing is an important marker to a layer of our identity at the time when we were wearing it & by saving examples we are saving snapshots of our identity which were important to us. I have also included  some sketches developed from pictures  from women’s magazines of the time & digitally transformed some contemporary writings into stitch.

Machine stitching out digitally generated handwriting.
Machine stitching out digitally generated handwriting.

 

Irish Embroidery Machine & Digital Print.

WW2 WAAF Uniform created by Irish Machine.
WW2 WAAF Uniform created by Irish Machine.

WW2 WAAF cap embroidered on an Irish machine.

WW2 WAAF cap embroidered on an Irish machine.

 

 

These images are from a series of works exploring the interface between the wartime identities permitted to women, allowing greater freedom & self-determination & the return to the straight jacket existence of domestic drudgery that they were summarily returned to after the war was ended.

 

Irish machine embroidery transmuted into digital stitch.
Irish machine embroidery transmuted into digital stitch.

 

This larger piece of work is based on a number of elements that were initially embroidered on an Irish machine, the after scanning into a computer were reproduced as digital prints in a wide range of sizes. The writing is digitally generated handwriting extracted from wartime letters musing on the possibilities of an exciting post-war life  whilst the tight corsets in unappealing colours contrast some aspects of the reality. The large digital print of the uniform demonstrates the texture imparted by the making of the original images & gives a less manufactured feel. The backing is an original 1940’s bedspread. The digital print allows an image that was originally quite small to be expanded to the actual size of a uniform.

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