Mary Croom’s Dress


Materials: Video – Stop frame animation and sound track, back projected onto frosted glass light box, head phones.
Dimentions: Light box measures 60cm wide x 45cm high x 5cm deep
A still from an animation which shows the forensic unpicking of a child’s Victorian dress, this animation then reverses so that the dress is pieced together again. This animation is durational and goes around in a loop. There is a audio text that goes with this piece about the process of trying to find out information and stories from the process of unpicking the dress and it’s relationship to a photograph found in the archive of Mary Croom held at the Constance Howard Textile Research and Resource Centre.

I was given a child’s Victorian dress by a magazine editor with a misfit collection of white work. Three years later I came across an image of a virtually identical dress in a photograph. The dress was adorning a two year old Mary Croom, sitting there, clean, poised, neatly ironed and arranged; not the yellowed, worn and mended version that now lies in fragments on my desk. I want my Victorian dress to breathe so it can speak to me and show me the live video footage of its past but instead it whispers too quietly for me to hear. I’m like the child that is so eager to discover how the spider works that I have carefully pulled off its legs. I have taken the dress apart to discover more about how it is made. Under the penetrating light I can see its skeleton, I now understand its stitch structure and I discover the order in which it was pieced together, but this isn’t enough.