You are here:Works>Textiles

Women's Work

prostitutes' advertising cards on cotton backing cloth
204 x 204 cm
1997

Notes on this work

Back to main work

I first collected examples of tart-art (as I have heard it called amongst deltiologists) out of aimless fascination. While the drawings were frequently in the mode of Victorian illustrations the texts had their own brisk poetry ('Xmas fun!/Spank my Bum').

As usual, collection long preceded any kind of work (as with Peckham Heads which were amassed over a period of twenty years) and it was only a reminder of the connection between seamstress and prostitute that led to the idea of a quilt. Even then the impossibility of sewing paper seemed to rule it out. Women's expertise came to the rescue and a sample fragment made by Lucy Shortis showed me how the card thinned down to weight of writing paper could be pasted on to cloth to make viable patches.

After some trial and error with designs I produced the collage maquette for Women's Work. It was Alice Wood who suggested the eventual mode of making and it was she that executed the final object with myself as cutter as well as designer.

The goal was to celebrate via a traditional design (alternative versions of the Ohio Star) the rich colours of the cards at a scale where words were enigmatically incomplete and bits of drawing could flow one into the other. The finished quilt was first shown in the Royal Academy Summer exhibition of 1997. Brian Sewell (who sometimes inadvertently praises where he means to castigate) singled it out in the Evening Standard as an object more appropriate to a women's institute than an art gallery, thereby giving it some credentials of success.