The travelling dress collective is a beautiful ongoing project where multiple photographers each with their own style and view of the world photograph the same dress to make their own unique visions come alive. I was fascinated by the project and the way different photographers brought varied and individual elements to the project and always wanted to take part but because of living in post inaccessible parts of the world I never had the chance. Fast forward to 2020 and a time of global lockdowns and living in isolation from others and suddenly I was part of a remarkable and encouraging group of ladies, brainstorming about using what we had available to us during these tricky times to make a different incarnation of the project come alive and reinvigorate our creative processes.
Our group was led by the wonderful Kelly Brown and we created this series of work during isolation. We did not share a single garment as had been done in the past but used what we already had in our homes. We decided what we all had in common was curtains. Lace or sheer. We communicated through instagram to encourage and inspire and motivate each other.
Each of us wrote about what the project meant to us, and those beautiful words along with the incredible images of my fellow participants can be seen here. I was so honoured to create alongside these ladies, and simply blown away by the depth of their words and the beauty of their images having not seen them until they came together on the Travelling Dress Collective website. Each of us chose just 3 images to submit, however, I’ve included more here which tell my behind the scenes story in more detail.
Whilst we are much more settled in Yorkshire, for now, than we were when I completed this project back in April/May 2020, my words are no less meaningful, for they tell the tale of life as it was right then, and I am so grateful for art which melds with thoughts and feelings to allow me to process much of what was swirling in my mind at that unsettling time in our lives.
When Covid-19 hit we were in Pakistan. The border back to India where we live had closed behind us and we found ourselves stuck, so returned to my country, England, a place my husband and kids have never lived. We are seeing out lockdown in Yorkshire, in a home that is temporary, and not ours. A place that has given us warmth and shelter, for which we are beyond grateful, but a place filled with someone else’s life. Perhaps it’s that, or the very essence of the time we’re going through that gave rise to the somewhat ambiguous nature of the photos I took. The movement and the swirling representing the transitory and unsettled nature of our days. The dark and light patches indicating the ups and downs of our days. Hiding behind a veil symbolizing the fact I don’t truly feel like I’m living my own life right now. The blur signifying how nothing feels quite in focus right now.
The blur helps though…. I’m self conscious about taking self portraits. I always have been and I’d love to get over it. I tend to hide, behind my hair, or my hands, or a veil of some sort. I’m even more conscious now of how my body looks after being so sick last year. My skin fell apart and I lost (and continue to lose) so much hair. The immense weight loss didn’t look good on me – it aged me, and my face in particular. And it left bits of skin hanging and wobbling, with nothing to fill it any more. Maybe I’m being harsh on myself and my illness, and maybe I’m clinging to straws of blame instead of embracing the passage of time, maybe this ageing would be hitting me now anyway? And especially as a mother of daughters I try not to pick my body apart, and to love it for what it is. And I do! Always. I swear. I’m grateful that it is restoring itself in so many ways, especially internally. But I feel sad too at what I feel being ill did to my body. I feel robbed, and cheated by it. And so these pictures capture a place, a time and a body none of which feel completely my own. None of which feel quite normal just now. They don’t feel especially empowered as beautiful self portraits should, but that’s OK. This is now. This is how it is. It’s temporary. And I say again… The blur signifies how nothing feels quite in focus right now….
I’d love for you to visit the blog and see the words and images of the incredible ladies who completed this with me, and maybe to peruse some of the previous Travelling Dress Collective posts from around the world.
And visit each of the ladies at their instagrams
Thank you for being here on the journey of creativity with me,
With love, Kirsty xx