Proposal by Julia Triston, Textile Artist Designer and Lecturer
Background to my Research
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.
In my textile artwork I aim to tell the stories of women who don’t often get to tell their own stories. In showing the Bra-ra Dresses and the knicker bunting, I put on display that which is usually unseen, and in doing so, celebrate the diversity of the shape, size and age of the woman’s body.
I propose to talk about my investigation into identity and how we can collect and display information about women in innovative ways.