Hair fabric personal experiments

Once the fabric was digitally printed we each took away a piece to work on in which ever way we felt inspired.

Helen was inspired by ideas of patchwork & collage and the way images are put together. She was interested in the way that our drawings had lost their original paper texture through being digitally printed. Helen created some striking pieces of digital collage, working with digital images of printed fabric. The fabric seemed less precious as digital images and she was able to be intuitive creating juxtapositions with geometric shapes reminiscent of patchwork quilts.

Mandy worked directly from some of the drawings she did of the ‘Hair Still Life’. She had a clear idea of what she wanted to do and this idea about the drawing was something of a revelation. She wanted to bring together the screen-printing and embroidery she uses in her work in a new way. This was a joyful instance of something turning out completely as envisioned. Mandy tends to use very dense areas of embroidery in her work which makes selling work restrictive. This way of using stitch as outline & detail & the screen print as the infill & background will allow Mandy to develop a boarder pricing range in her work. She felt this freed up her thinking & the mini brief of working with the Hair fabric was motivating. The dolls faces broke up the lines which were created by the photo shopped design.


Gemma was inspired by the idea of the fabric as a headpiece. She worked on the idea of pattern & texture echoing that of hair, in particular a style of setting the hair called ‘finger waves’. Gemma couched threads onto the fabric in waves, trying a few different methods of fixing, some of the threads left loose. She used hair grips and composed the threads so they added to the design of the fabric. With more time and opportunity there were other ideas thrown up like scattering the thread like fallen locks of hair on the carpet. Also the technical challenge of hand sewing with silk threads added to the nature of the piece.


Kiran was interested in the ideas of creating a collage, but with the design already using this technique she found it difficult to plan a response, pinning the piece of fabric to the wall of the office to better contemplate it. At the last minute Kiran decided to try something out that she had wanted to for a while. She collaged together a mixture of doilies so the pattern framed the piece of fabric and printed a textile print paste called Devore over the collaged stencil. Devore is an acidic paste that burns through cellulose fibres; it is commonly used on a variety of fabrics made up of a cellulose thread & another fibre such as silk or polyester. These fibres are left intact in the more usual use of devore ensuring the fabric has a proper integrity. The McrC digital print is printed on cotton poplin so the devore paste would burn straight through leaving a network of holes. Kiran wanted to try this as in her research on the process it was suggested the print paste was first developed to produce fake lace- i.e. burn holes.


Bringing the fabrics back together was really exciting & sparked much discussion about what our next steps might be. It was decided that we would make up a toile of a tunic dress inspired by Gemma’s Mum’s dress in the photo. We would then decide where our individual embellishments might be best used on the dress and work towards some kind of recreation of the photograph either by photo collage or an actual installation.

Posted in Exquisite Corpse Project | Leave a comment

Hair Still Life

A Collection of wigs & other hairy belongings!

After a few hours drawing a still life made up of wigs, a fox stole and the odd doll we talked about what incarnations our drawings could take on. Laying them out suggested that we could start by scanning these drawings in and using photoshop to compose a few design options.

This could lead to some digitally printed fabric which could be embellished by each of the collaborators and at some stage perhaps turned into a garment.

We talked about several different ideas including creating garments in the vein of leopard print, and some tangental ideas about hair as mementos- lockets trinket boxes & victoriana, totemic animals or dolls or humanoid animals sculptures.

Posted in Exquisite Corpse Project | Leave a comment

Four Ladies, Three Museums, Two buses and a Chicken Shawarma

The People’s History Museum, Whitworth Gallery, &Platt Feields Gallery of Costume.

Manchester Cloth took a long anticipated day out to visit some Manchester museums and galleries.

We met up in the morning at the People’s History Museum, keen on viewing the banner collection. We found there was a lot of information to take in while only a few of the banners from their collection were on display. Things that got us excited: filigree scroll work, lettering and hand painting, decaying/conserved fabrics and paint work, quality of stitch and materials. We got talking about a banner we might make in the future and what our message could be…

Banners in the collection of the People’s History Museum.

A short bus ride later we arrived at the Whitworth Art gallery to admire the exhibition banner that Mandy made for Global Threads, using her multi-head stitch machine. The exhibition was a contrast to the PHM, being quite sparse. Again, our favourite pieces were the fragile degraded Egyptian textiles sparking discussion about the universality of the stripe in utilitarian cloth and the fact that weaving hasn’t changed in all that time. We liked the colour combinations from the centrally-positioned woven piece by …… The movement of the weaving featured in the video pieces was also interesting, as a  performance.

After a quick but lovely feed at Jaffa in Rusholme, our last stop was the Platt Hall Costume Gallery. Looking through the decades of costume and accessories we were inspired by the details of pleats, tucks, buttons and garment construction and wondered how we might include these processes in projects to come. It was interesting to see the accompanying exhibition from the 62 Group who were responding to the costume collection with individual textile pieces.  Seeing their responses helped us to reflect upon the nature of our Exquisite Corpse project and how we were responding to each others work.

Buttons & dresses from the collection & a piece from the exhibition of work by the 62 Group, by Hazel Bruce.

Posted in Untitled New Project | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Open Day Reflections

Overall a resounding success exceeding expectations left, right and centre.

The following six photos take us around the room left to right.

Boxes just beyond the piano.

General feedback was very positive and we would like to thank all those who visited us and encourage all those who did not to come along to our next event.

The event was an informal and interactive experience for us the hosts and our guests. The rituals of making tea and offering biscuits punctuated the guided tours of the exhibition.


The domestic environment was fitting for the aesthetic of the work and indicative of the individual practices which had generated this body of work.


Boxes Window Installation

Guests responded to having the process of the project divulged by us, the artists and this seemed to be a major aspect of people’s enjoyment of the exhibition.

Bunny Ears in the foreground.

Bunny Ears and Bridges

It was interesting to have the exhibition populated, ideas and methods discussed, as important if not more important to us than the works themselves.

Posted in Exquisite Corpse Project | Leave a comment

Exquisite Corpse Open Day

Phew, it has taken a while to catch our breath after the event! We all had a brilliant day, with over 70 visitors we didn’t get much of a chance to take photos.  We spent most of our time talking people around the work which seemed to help people engage with it and also gave us another chance for reflection.  We had some great feedback and some thought provoking questions and suggestions which is what we have been taken up with  in the few weeks since. Some of those questions were asked by Annie Harrison who wrote a kind and thoughtful review of the show on her blog after she had been to visit us -Thank you Annie!

More photos to come, but for now here are some of the questions that have arisen -where is the line between our individual and group work? How do we go on from here? Do we continue to show the work with more ‘ one day- all hands on deck’ shows  or longer exhibitions where our personal tours are replaced by audio guides? Answers to follow….

Posted in Exquisite Corpse Project | Leave a comment

An Invitation

You are invited to a one day Exhibition that will take place on

Saturday 3rd September between 10.00am – 5.30pm

Showcasing the project ‘Exquisite Corpse’ by the Artists

Gemma Lacey, Helen Mather, Mandy Tolley and Kiran Williams

The exhibition will be held at Chorlton Community Centre

11 Corkland Road, Chorlton, M21 8UP

Tram: Chorlton Station

If you get lost call:07775636361

Refreshments will be served throughout the day to a musical accompaniment, we hope to see you there!

From Gemma, Helen, Mandy and Kiran.

Posted in Exquisite Corpse Project | Leave a comment