Narrative Cloth: Monday 21 September to Sunday 27 September 2015

Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

Crawley Hall, 11am-5pm (entry included within normal admission price)

The exhibition, ‘Narrative Cloth’ is the result of a collaboration between social historian, Danae Tankard, & three artists, Victoria Brown, Shirley Chubb & Rachel Johnston.  The starting point has been Danae’s research on the clothing of the rural poor in 17th century Sussex which was published as an article, ‘”A pair of grass-green woollen stockings”: the clothing of the rural poor in seventeenth-century Sussex’, in the journal, Textile History, in 2012.  This research drew on a diverse range of primary sources, including theft prosecutions, wills & probate inventories (lists of testators’ moveable goods taken immediately after death).

Shirley Brown, 'Whomade'

Shirley Chubb

Each artist has produced a series of works in different media reflecting their personal response to the narratives of cloth & clothing explored in the article.

In her short film, Whomade, Shirley Chubb considers how landscape forms the basis of our existence and how communities are defined by their ability to use and process the produce of the world around us. The split screen format of her film includes closely observed footage of flax and wool being prepared for use. Another section shows how a caught strand of wool is being spun by the wind. Flanked by film of edges and lines in the landscape we see how spinning and weaving are echoed in the movement and motion of the world around us.

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown

Victoria Brown’s work is about colour; she compares & contrasts chemical & natural dyes through making her own ‘visual list’ of colours, with dyes used 450 years ago & modern chemical equivalents.  She made pieces of felt from 100 grams of wool & used 17th century plant dyes; woad for blue, weld for yellow, madder for red & 21st century ‘Acid Dyes’; Kanacid Red 4B, Lanaset Blue & Kananthrol Yellow to colour the fabric.


Rachel Johnston

Rachel Johnston

Rachel Johnston responded to the story of a woman called Elizabeth Coulstocke indicted for the theft of one & three quarter pounds of wool in 1651.  She was interested in the story that lay behind the facts & figures.  She began by spinning one & three quarter pounds of wool with a drop spindle.  The intensely tactile nature of spinning brought a focus to the hands &, making a connection of clothing, gloves.

The project is funded by the University of Chichester.


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