The Empty Dress
“A garment is a wrapping that draws a person’s imprint; it is a relic which serves as a replacement.
It represents a person, a mood, a place, an authentic feeling.” Louise Bourgeois
As a potent feminine symbol the ‘Empty Dress’ is pivotal to my work, my mother is a couturier dressmaker and the image of ‘empty dresses’ hanging up in her sewing room has a powerful resonance that I have taken through life.
This series of work began with a desire to revisit a museum I remember visiting as a child with my mother in search of an ‘empty dress’ belonging to Charlotte Brontë. The conversations we had about the ‘empty dress’ on display have always captivated my imagination; the faded lace and fragile fabric of a dress for someone who was of tiny proportions has been an everlasting memory.
In the Brontë Parsonage Museum items on display such as Charlotte Brontë’s wedding bonnet, gloves, rings, hairbrush and fragments of garments are the poignant reminders of a short lived marriage and life which ended tragically at a young age. Throughout the museum we experience a collision of fact and fiction focussing on Charlotte Brontë’s style of gothic and passionate storytelling together with the mundane reality of a Victorian governess, daughter and sister.
This series of work was presented as part of the MA final degree show exhibition at UWE, Bower Ashton, Bristol in summer 2009.