Over the last few weeks I have been drawing and painting a series works to be printed on silk and wool for a set of unique textile linings for Victorian ladies cycling garments; commissioned for the Freedom of Movement research project created by sociologist Katrina Jungnickel who is based at Goldsmiths, University of London. The drawings are inspired by Kats in-depth research and tell some of the stories behind each patent, the woman who invented it and the social, technological, physical and cultural challenges that early women cyclists had to face .
Through much of my work with Proboscis collaborating with communities, geographers, technologists and social scientists I’ve become interested in how drawing in public or amongst researchers can be a catalyst for conversation, observation and new analysis, revealing hidden connections and sparking alternative ways to interpret ideas and research. So, rather than being isolated from Kats research in my studio I decided to take the work to Kat’s space in the Sociology Department at Goldsmiths, and for the conversation this sparked to inform the content and feel of each drawing as it developed. Kat has a keen interest in making, craft and collaboration so at any time there was drawing, sewing, film-making, photography and desk based academic research all going on in the space. The finished linings are the a record of, and result of those intense drawing activities as well as an interpretation of the research.
One of the features of the cycling garments that attracted me to this project is that they convert from one type of garment to another. A long skirt might be folded, gathered or lifted up to above the knee by some mechanism of cords, buttons or hooks, to reveal bloomers worn underneath or perhaps a long coat on top; in another patent a skirt is taken off, to reveal bloomers, and worn as a cycling cape. In previous projects I’ve explored drawing and textiles, creating images that change or are revealed by the movement of the fabric so it was interesting to now do this with such rich research tied to the form of a historical garment and in conversation with the researcher and her team.
I was surprised to find out how controversial it was for women to cycle (particularly wearing bloomers), they were shouted and jeered at, refused entry to cafes, were socially shunned and had dirt thrown at them. The women who invented these garments had to be highly creative and balance the need for modesty with the need for free movement of the limbs and safety from fabric catching in the mechanism of the bicycle. Despite the privileged backgrounds of the very early cyclists (machines were expensive) I think these women must have had to display great courage and strength of purpose to push against convention, adopting and campaigning for women’s freedom to be accepted as cyclists, to race on cycles and wear clothing that allowed them more freedom.
The garments themselves will be worn and used for storytelling and presenting the research. You can see them in an exhibition at Look Mum No Hands from 7pm on the 13 June 2014 find out more at bikesandbloomers.com
As part of our research for the project, we conducted an anarchaeology of the city and its people and created a series of Impressions to inspire different perspectives on the key themes for workshop participants and project stakeholders.
The Impressions, initially created as a means of conveying a local sense of place to national and international participants, were inspired by the series of ‘Wanderings’ that Proboscis undertook with local people in Peterborough as a means of conveying a local sense of place.
We were inspired by the people of Peterborough and the seeds of the future they showed us that Peterborough already has; the diversity, talent, river, and green spaces, fens and waterways, the history and folklore and the great generous friendliness of people who never turned us away. Our Impressions therefore were about the seeds of Peterborough; visible and invisible, from past and future, for hopes
and concerns. They are about what could be seeded, nurtured and grown and what seeds exist here already to help everyone do that.
The wanderings involved conversations and encounters with over 20 local people of different ages and backgrounds. Proboscis journeyed through townships, villages and city by taxi, train, bus, bike, kayak and on foot to investigate and explore the city and its surrounding landscapes. We gained a richer understanding, through local and grassroots perspectives, of people’s perspectives of what it is like to live in Peterborough and their aspirations for the future. The resulting series of Impressions include short films, audio collage, eBooks, StoryCubes and drawings that can be shared physically and digitally and combined with existing policy material to add new perspective to the visioning process.
- Lines of Mobility Diffusion eBook
- Blocks of Change Diffusion eBook
- Bus Adventures Diffusion eBook
- Underused Assets StoryCubes
- Monsters and Mermaids (8 panel french fold booklet PDF)
- Flows Film
- Perspectives Film
- Voices audio piece
- Briefing Pack Book (PDF)
- Briefing Pack StoryCubes (illustrated by Matt Huynh).
Perspectives of Peterborough (UK) from bike, kayak and bus. One of a series of 8 “Impressions” of the city of Peterborough in England. Part of the Perception Peterborough project which involves artists and consultants in working with local, national and international people to develop a compelling and exciting vision for the future of the city.