Artist-in-Residence at Erewash Museum 11th September – 31st October 2015. This residency provided an opportunity for me to present a body of work to the specific community that generated the material to produce it. The response was overwhelming and over the seven-week period I received over 600 visitors.
For 15 years I have gathered used labels from local charity shops, unpicking labels from the neck of rag garments. The 30,000 used labels in this collection have all been gathered from the High Street; therefore local residents were once walking around in these garments. This 15-year project proved an excellent way to engage a local audience, both in terms of presenting my work and in supporting their local Museum.
The work allowed visitors to reflect on historic local garment manufacturers such as CHARNOS and DAKS, also shops that no longer occupy the High Street including Burton, Woolworths and Adams. Context lies within the detail of the work. Not only in the design of superseded labels in which we can observe the passage of time, but also in the unexpected detail which tells a story.
The award winning ‘Dairy Cow’ made up of 5,000 used garment labels, was on display in the window at Sue Ryder to accompany the exhibition. At age eight Sue Ryder was given two Jersey cows and subsequently began her own dairy herd, which grew to twenty-four. Young entrepreneur Sue sold the milk and butter from the door and scrubbing her dairy was her favourite job.
What would Sue Ryder think of this Dairy Cow assembled from 5000 used garment labels, all generated through charity donation on the High Street? ‘Dairy Cow’ has been described as ‘an extravagant rescue of fashionable waste’ and in the current global milk crisis offers the viewer a strong sense of community.