The troubled skirt is a piece I’m working on for next years exhibition where much of the work and the poetry is inspired by my relationship with my mother who was a dressmaker.
It seemed important to make something in the form of a garment. I found a skirt in my wardrobe. I bundle died it by filling it with stones and hedgerow flowers: ragwort, campion, chicory, sorrel, all found growing along the railway track, then tying it up and boiling it. But I had to stop boiling because the house was filled with a noxious smell, so I left it outside for a week in the sun, the water turned an iron brown. When I untied the bundle the flowers had become a mess of vegetation, the skirt was the colour of tea. I hung it out to dry. I began to think of a poem. I wrote the first draft of a poem Made of Leaf, while the skirt was drying and it was this that inspired me to a final vision of the skirt laid on a sewing machine which I’m working towards.
Its leaves are cut from paper and cloth – both our mediums: hers being textiles, mine words. It was difficult to write directly on, but I wanted to take my pen to it..the poem begins
Made of leaf this dress of awkward things bundled round stone tied with string, in its seams our lives indelibly inked.
Stitched in skin this sleeve of folded wings...