Constrained, A Victorian Tapestri

22 Sep


I’ve finally finished the piece I’ve been working on for the exhibition ‘A Victorian Tapestri’  at the end of this week. It’s constructed of the 12 pieces that make up a Victorian corset, cut from a heavyweight Somerset paper. I coated each with cyanotype chemicals and printed them with some of my sketchbook drawings. I’ve called it ‘Constrained’ because it reflects the physical and social constraints endured by Victorian women. The cyanotype process was invented in Victorian times by Sir John Herschel, one of the earliest of photographic processes. I’ve tied the pieces together with mauve ribbon. The aniline dye Mauve was invented by the Victorian chemist William Perkin in 1856.

I decided on a corset when I saw the brief for the show, “all kinds of archaeological, historical, metaphorical, and allegorical excavations of Swansea’s Victorian heritage.” I have vivid memories of my Mam taking me to a corsetry shop called Madam Foner’s in Swansea’s High Street to be fitted for brassieres when I was in my early teens. She believed in ‘proper’ underwear and wouldn’t let me have those flimsy, pretty department store bras that my schoolfriends wore. So I had to endure an adolescence of engineered constructions that looked like they’d been built in a shipyard. The Victorian connection? Madam Foner’s was in a beautiful Victorian shop, now housing the rather lovely Galerie Simpson. Click here to see a photo of this gorgeous building.


The exhibition opens this Friday at Tapestri on Alexandra Road, Swansea at 7pm and runs until October the 9th.

4 Responses to “Constrained, A Victorian Tapestri”

  1. jhv57 September 25, 2015 at 02:00 #

    History through corsetry. I like the way your brain works!

  2. Mary September 22, 2015 at 22:52 #

    Amazing to see the completed project! Well done!
    What are the final dimensions of the piece?

    I had forgotten about the book “Mauve”. Maybe I’ll finally get around to reading it. Thanks for the link!

    • Rosie Scribblah September 23, 2015 at 04:59 #

      Hi Mary, it’s about 6 feet long and about 15 inches wide. The book is marvellous. I can also heartily recommend ‘Colour, Travels Through the Paintbox’ by Victoria Finlay, a fascinating book and a good read.

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