Julia delivers a paper at 'Not Powerpoint Again'
A conference at the University of York (02-07-10) on the theme of 'presenting research on women in popular culture differently'.
At the conference, three of Julia's Bra-ra Dresses will be modelled and the audience will be invited to participate in an experiential performance looking at women's identities through her feminist social artwork.
Click here for more details.
"For the past two years I have been investigating the theme of identity in my textile artwork. I want to tell the stories of women through my textile pieces, and allow their voices to be heard through my social art creations. I considered the following questions when carrying out my research for making:
·what do we want as women?
·how do people perceive us, as women?
·how do we perceive ourselves, as women?
·as women what do we want others to know about us, but never get asked?
·as women how do our bodies change over the years?
·what are we proud of, as women?
·what do we usually keep hidden, as women?
·what, if given the opportunity, would we like to show the world, as women?
·what, as women, can we achieve collectively that we can’t achieve on our own?
"I wanted to represent the answers to these questions in an innovative way, creating a permanent feminist art statement in the process. I decided to explore my theme through the taboo subject of underwear. To get the answer to some of the above questions, I wrote to all the women I know asking them to send me their most intimate items of clothing, with a story.Friends, family, colleagues, students, and anonymous donors sent their underwear with stories about giving away old favourites, of bigger bodies no longer fitting sexy underwear, of wanting another airing for their beautiful wedding basques....one friend sent me the bra that she was wearing when diagnosed with breast cancer."
"From all the hundreds of donations received I have created four ‘Bra-ra Dresses’ as well as 90 metres of ‘knicker bunting’. The pieces have been exhibited in various galleries, worn at fashion shows and at a national hairdressing competition (Toni & Guy), used at women’s events and filmed by the Press Association. I created my Fourth Bra-ra Dress to wear for my hour on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square on 09/09/09. This artwork, entitled ‘The Pink Nation Bra-ra Dress’, was made from donated pink bras (including from many celebrities) to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer."
Julia delivers a paper at 'Not Powerpoint Again'
Julia's Bra-ra Dresses are creating a bit of a storm in the media!
So far Julia has created three Bra-ra Dresses - have a look at the images on her dedicated website: www.bra-ra-dresses.com
The Bra-Ra Dresses are entitled 'We Fade to Grey', 'Little Black Number' and 'Wild at Heart'. All of these pieces were first shown at Fusion's exhibition on Identity at The Hartlepool Art Gallery, August 2008.
This series of work explores the issue of identity, and Julia uses donated women's underwear as a raw material to express her theme, celebrating the diverse shapes and sizes of our bodies.
The donated knickers were made into 'flags' and stitched to knicker elastic to form 90m of 'knicker bunting', entitled 'Push My Button'.
The Bra-ra Dresses and knicker bunting have recently been shown in London at the prism exhibition, in the Mall Galleries, and from the 2nd-4th April 2009 two of these dresses will be on display at Fusion's stand at the Pins & Needles Show, at the Newcastle Arena.
The Newcastle Evening Chronicle have covered Julia's Bra-ra Dresses - read the article here.
BBC Radio Newcastle have also interviewed Julia about the Bra-ra Dresses - to hear the interview click here (it starts at 1hr 45 mins and 30 secs).
IDENTITY – textile art with underwear!
As some of you know I have been collecting underwear to use as a raw material in my textile art work (in an alternative way!) to celebrate the diverse shape and size of us as women.
Earlier in 2008, I wrote to all the women I know – requesting them to send me their unwanted underwear - and got an amazing response and a wealth of donations (nearly 300!) The donations included knickers, bras, basques, camisoles, suspender belts, garters, vests…..what I received shaped what I created:
The knickers were all cut into two (front and back), or just a front for a thong/string! I then sewed a button onto each side of the gathered gusset to give the knickers some weight, making them into ‘flags’. The top edge of all the knickers were stitched onto knicker elastic to create knicker bunting! Currently there is approximately 90m of it, with 227 flags, and 454 buttons! I have entitled this piece ‘Push My Button’ and every pair I was sent have been included – from the never worn to the worn out, and from the big and baggy to the virtually invisible! It caused quite a stir in the gallery before the exhibition even opened! Watch out London!
I started by cutting out the bra wires (so many sizes!) so the bras would be easier to stitch. I aim to do something with these at a later date. I then cut the bras up and sewed them together. The original idea was to make a patchwork quilt from bras, but as I began to make the quilt it became apparent that the ‘quilt’ was becoming quite three dimensional and could be viewed from different angles, rather than being hung on a flat wall. I then held it up against me and started experimenting with garment shapes (I am a great fan of wearable art!) So to cut a long story short, the bras were unpicked from the quilt and restitched to make three ‘Bra-ra dresses’. Three donated basques have been used as the tops for the dresses. There is a short black one (‘Little Black Number’), a multi-coloured one (‘Wild at Heart’), and a white one (‘We Fade to Grey’) which is long and has a bustle.
I asked everyone to give me a comment for these conceptual pieces and the stories received have been funny, moving and full of memories and comments on how our bodies change over the years. This is what I wanted the piece to be all about, but I have not had time to match comment with underwear yet, but shall explore this as an addition for the London exhibition.
I am going to continue to make some more dresses and other pieces, so if you want to keep sending me your underwear please do so!!! If you didn’t donate in phase one of the project, there is now another opportunity to do so.
Many, many thanks go to all the women who donated to this project – thanks for being so generous and brave. The pieces I have created show intimacy, practicality, genuineness and display what is usually unseen, in a fun and alternative way. I have really enjoyed creating them.