Whispers Progressive Garment Project
The Whispers progressive garment project is an initiative by Wearable Art Mandurah to grow the wearable arts community and enhance the artistic reputation of wearable art across Australia and beyond..
The project is similar to a progressive dinner or game of ‘Whispers’. The selected artists each create a section of a garment, through interpretation of a given theme and in response to the work of the other artists in the project.
The finished product is an acclaimed exhibition piece for the Wearable Art Showcase, held in June in Mandurah, Western Australia.
Each artist has four weeks to design and construct a section of the garment, before sending it to the next artist.
This project is facilitated by Anzara Clark
2018: Skrydstrup Woman
Presenting the Skrydstrup Woman, a collaboration of six designers Australia wide.
Jodie Davidson (WA) Carmel Ryan (NT) Cheryl Bridgart (SA)
Bronwyn Packwood (NT) Stephanie Reynolds (Tas) Sue Girak (WA)
Six Artists, one garment, and a story that whispers across time and space.
Skrydstrup Woman is an incredibly well preserved corpse of a young Bronze Age woman discovered in the Skrydstrup area of Jutland in Denmark. She is An artefact of history and a mystery, providing creative inspiration for the 2018 Wearable Art Whispers project.
Buried with markers of status and privilege and clearly an important figure in her community; like a number of other young female bodies of the Bronze Age era discovered in Denmark, Skrydstrup Woman came from elsewhere in Europe and travelled to the Skrydstrup area. The well preserved textiles found buried with her open a window to the history of contemporary textiles.
The material artefacts and archaeological knowledge of Skrydstrup Woman are both revealing and tantalisingly incomplete. As a frame to stimulate thinking and inspire the six project artists, this knowledge provides coherence and connection. But there are many unanswered questions for the artists to ponder and answer in fabric and in stitch. Who was she? What was her personality? What did she dream?
The artists have embraced Skrydstrup Woman and the task of bringing her from the past into the present. The collaboration of the varied skill of six different artists, and their own unique connection with Skrydstrup woman and her story, have woven together to create a richly complex and highly unique garment.
Says Project Facilitator Anzara Clark:
“ In recreating the story of Skrydstrup Woman in a beautiful garment, the six project artists have shared in a journey through the past and with each other. In doing so, they will retain a small piece of Skrydstrup Woman within themselves and carry it into six different futures.”
The story of the Skrydstrup Woman has travelled for over 8,000 miles and 3,000 years. Although the cross country creative journey of the Whispers garment is complete, and it has returned to its home in Mandurah WA, her journey continues as she takes on a life of her own and a very busy schedule of public appearances, sharing her travels and story with the world.
More information about the Skrydstrup Woman can be found here
A single red stitched line on natural cloth marks the journey of Skydstrup Woman and my own as the first artist in a collaborative process of creating a visual representation of this woman’s life. The artwork maps a Bronze Age voyage, yet its simplicity of form could travel and be functional shelter, clothing or comfort. The layered landscape, hand sewn with plant based, natural dyed fabric offcuts and thread encapsulate typical circular elements. Houses woven from recycled coffee pod looms symbolise the beginning of farming practices amongst forests, whose changing colours indicate the passing of seasons throughout her travel.
Materials and Processes: Mapping with circular designs and miniature looms made from plastic coffee pod casings woven with plant dyed cottons represent the establishment of villages. hills, forests and waters; utilising layered fabric offcuts dyed with mulberry, coffee, eucalyptus, turmeric, dandelion and indigo, hand stitched and hemmed - echoing techniques practiced 3300 years ago.
As an artist that loves working with recycled materials, Skrydstrup Woman was the ideal project. So many layers to her story, known facts and unknowns to let the imagination wonder. How did she look? Was she a leader, headstrong and spirited - this young life cut short? I make parallels with my daughter Emily, at the same age, 18. It seemed apt to recycle her formal gown fabric, the perfect bronze green for lining and skirt. Other materials include ghost net, well travelled across the seas, and a reindeer at the waist, a representation of Denmark, food source and clothing.
My choice of materials was guided by preceding artist, Jodie.
Her handstitched, appliquéd hessian square could not be cut into. I lined it with recycled bronze satin to make an overcape and made matching underskirt & ceremonial waist belt. Other materials included ghost net, crochet string, wire and metal hardware.
My Adelaide based textile practice involves creating tactile, expressive visual narratives, inspired by my daily life and dreams. Researching Skrystrup Woman gave me an insight into her spirit as I dreamt and sketched her collar. I lost myself in 100 or so hours of freely stitching the deer’s head & applying 110 handmade symbolic cords. I felt part of her story and journey, connected with artists Jodie and Carmel. The collar is the shape of a skin and the horns are dimensional. The cords pick up the pattern of her journey map & the colours of the lands she travelled.
Materials and Processes: Cotton fabrics, thread, faux suede, wadding, boning, metallic beads, & bone button freehand embroidery techniques or drawing with a sewing machine in only needle & thread. 100 handmade cords from recycled fabrics, metal beads, tassels, a handmade bone button & a 3-D embroidered deer with horns.
I often work with recycled/repurposed materials. I like the history and memories they bring with them. Having several artists work on the same garment, all adding to and telling the same story in various ways is very exciting. Initially I was daunted by the talent and creativity of the artists who preceded me. I was however inspired by their use of materials, fabric and colour choices. I had some ideas about what I wanted to say about Skrydstrup Woman. I became interested in making a crowned headdress, to be a subtle statement of stature and power, regal but not grandiose.
Materials and Processes: I used only materials I owned. Experiments with paper patterns were discarded but led me to use leftover fabrics from my recent experiments with indigo and natural dyeing. They became handmade strings. Copper wire, semiprecious stones, old jewelry and beads were all stitched to a handmade crown and hat form.
The bodice weaves the story of our bartered bride as she crosses hostile lands to unite with a man she does not know. The softness of the feminine in the silk and the hardiness of the male in the flax fibre. The fine clothing she might have been wearing at the start of her journey and the patching with whatever plant fibre she could find as her clothing became worn. Her story. Your story. A woman's story.
Materials and Processes: Woven silk yarn spun from old saris and roughly spun muka - fibre from New Zealand flax. Around the waist, a “food” pod from a cheese box. The labelling is intentionally left, drawing this woman's story to this century - still the fate of many women - the bartered bride.
In 1935 a young Bronze Age woman was removed from her ancient burial site. It is through scientific analysis that we gain some insight into how she lived and died yet we do not know she was. As the final artist working on a collaborative piece, I am well aware of those who have come before me. Stitching over another’s hand, I begin to imagine those who cherished this young woman in life and death. With each stitch, I envisage a life of goodbyes as she leaves her homeland to her final farewell as she is lovingly laid to rest.
Materials: wire, wool, cotton and acrylic threads
Processes: embroidery and hand-stitching