Textiles tutor Breathes New Life into Stitched Stories
Bradford School of Art Programme Leader and Textile Artist, Hannah Lamb will present a new performance based on her embroidered artwork, ‘Fragment of a Dress.’
Created with support from Textiles Practice Foundation Degree students last year for the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth, the artwork will now become central to a performance that will take place for one day only on 1 July.
Originally commissioned in 2022 as part of a year-long celebration of costume and textiles at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Hannah Lamb, together with our students created Fragment of a Dress as a modern-day reflection on the special place that clothes have in our lives.
Hannah invited museum visitors to write a short piece about an item of clothing that held significance for them. The resulting handwritten passages were then carefully hand embroidered onto silk organza by a team of volunteers, which was then transformed into a voluminous skirt or dress.
The work was presented with a nod to the 19th-century dresses that Charlotte Brontë and her sisters wore. Speaking about her original vision for the project, Hannah said:
“The museum collection contains some beautiful period dresses and accessories, but what particularly caught my attention were the small scraps of cloth that had been treasured as souvenirs by friends and fans of the Brontë sisters.”
In the latest iteration of Fragment of a Dress, Hannah will be collaborating with performance artist Jenny Skinner, a fellow Programme Leader for Performing Arts at Bradford School of Art, to bring the artwork to life.
Dressed in the embroidered skirt, crinoline, corset and various layers of underpinnings, Jenny will invite audience members to snip a piece from the work, the skirt becoming ever more fragmented as the day progresses. Hannah cites Yoko Ono’s powerful ‘Cut Piece’ performance artwork as an influence, although she intends her own performance to have a gentler feel.
“In making Fragment of a Dress, it was always my intention to deconstruct the piece, returning it to a series of fragments. Although this could be seen as a destructive act, for me it is part of the life of the work. I wanted this piece to have another life beyond the museum exhibition and to be part of a collaborative process.”
Collaboration has been at the project’s core from the outset, from the parsonage museum staff and visitors, to Hannah’s Textiles Practice Foundation Degree students at Bradford College who volunteered their time to embroider the text on the dress.
This latest performing arts collaboration is a continuation of this multi-disciplinary relationship. It is fitting that the performance will take place at Sunny Bank Mill, formerly a weaving mill producing cloth for the tailoring industries. Tucked away at the very top of the Spinning Mill building, the attic is an untouched part of the historic mill buildings, which is not usually open to the public.
For more information on the Textiles Practice Foundation Degree, visit: https://www.bradfordcollege.ac.uk/courses/fda-textiles-practice/.
Also at Sunny Bank Mill: ‘Tailored’ exhibition, until 2 July.
An exhibition from the 62 Group of Textile Artists (including two pieces by Hannah Lamb)
Published: 23rd June 2023
by Bradford College
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