I work with new parents in the early postnatal period, and am fascinated by the cultural and religious aspects to dressing infants.
The Bin Dress totally captured my imagination. It combined the theme of dressing up and adornment for special occasions, with that of resourcefulness through reuse of clothing, and hand-me-downs through generations of children in a family.
This particular christening gown also has an added poignancy as it is unknown why the dress had been discarded, and I was keen to explore this theme. I produced a series of preparatory drawings and monotypes, which gradually became darker, and somewhat sinister. These later drawings and prints seem a far cry to the traditional white, pure and angelic christening gown, suggesting that the dress held secrets. The structure of the dress remains, with it's ribbons and lace, but the colour makes it look as though it is a negative of the original.
I have thoroughly enjoyed working on this project. It allowed me to focus for several weeks on one object, and to develop a deeper sense of knowing. It also prompted me to explore the use of monotype printmaking on an off-set press; working to a much larger scale than usual. I plan to continue my work on this project.
Christening gown and petticoat
England, Great Britain (made)
Linen, trimmed with embroidery, lace and ribbon
V&A collection reference number(s):