Rabbit Hood 4

Detail of an embroidered bird looking at darning visible through the lining of the cloak

Inspired by the folding, secretive nature of Gemma’s book, Mandy was struck by the idea of hidden narratives; unfolding, seeking, finding and secret compartments.

We discussed how the original hood and added cloak had merged in to a single piece, even though the hood was added at the second stage.

Although we had not specified that the final stage of the project must result in a completely finished piece work, Mandy felt it important that this was addressed, yet in advance she was unsure of how she would respond to the piece. The practical implications of finishing a textile work are an essential part of her practice in her own work, needing to finish items to a high standard for shows and exhibitions.

Mandy was attracted by the photos of the cloak and hood taken in the woods and decided to continue this woodland theme. Inspired by the illustrations of William Morris, Mandy took this opportunity to interpret an embroidered ‘mando manderin’ version of William Morris’ ‘Strawberry Thief’.

Homage to 'Strawberry Thief'

Mandy has taken on the task of lining the cloak but with a secret twist. She discovered some sun bleached fabric that complimented the existing colours of the hessian and threads of the decorative darning. The cloak now has a double lining, the surface immediately visible looks worn and well used, it is broken only by a row of buttons and ribbon button loops. These open to reveal a concealed layer of decorative fantasy.

The embroidered birds (worked from toy birds in the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood’s collection) peck at and steal vibrant stitched strawberries scattered over the cloth. Using bound button holes Mandy creates portholes in the lining making patches of darning visible.

Cloak lining opened out

Mandy talked about how she had planned this stage in great detail and this came though in the work. We discussed the nature of planning, thinking and doing. Helen felt that the project had helped her lighten her attitude to planning and doing, some times she feels caught up in unconstructive thinking, but having something specific to respond to has been a useful process.

Mandy had explored a colour pallet slightly beyond her normal choices, which was nice to pursue for a specified project. We discussed the benefit of having the opportunity of doing something that did not have to relate to the ongoing narrative of our individual practices.

There was some discussion about resources and historical sources, William Morris exhibition at Wightwick Manor in the midlands, Kiran had visited and the collections at MMU. We also taked about photographing the pieces for a collection of postcards.

Photographs by Liz Lock.

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