Favourite family recipes often evoke fond memories of times past, and so do the pinnies, aprons, dusters worn to make them in.
Traditionally worn by women doing chores in and around the home, born and bred Caithness artist Joanna B Karr has decided to take inspiration from them, and the memories they hold, for her latest project.
Always keen to incorporate traditional skills and local stories in her artwork, Karr landed on the idea of the ‘house dress’, or apron, which was traditionally worn by women when dyeing yarns with lichen, creating a golden-brown or reddish-brown dye, in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. This type of work clothing usually had a small, repeat floral pattern.
Uses for lichens, and the folklore surrounding them, provided Joanna with a rich source of inspiration to make her first wrap apron. She used one of her pen and ink drawings of Ochrolechea Tartarea (a light coloured lichen) to design a fabric to make the exclusive wrap apron – there’s only one in existence.
Joanna is now looking to the public for further inspiration to grow the collection. She’s asking people to share their memories – and ideally photos – of aprons to not only help develop ideas for her artwork and to push the boundaries of traditional designs, but also to document the aprons along with their connected stories. Your story may then appear in Joanna’s blog or indeed on display at an exhibition.
This new artwork will be educational as well as creative, easily folded and packed away to be taken to venues and events, both indoors and out, to be displayed on clothes lines.
One such example comes from memory from Linda Travis, entitled Granma Davis (Margaret Elliot born in Newcastle in 1885)
‘A full-length photo of gran in her wrap-over apron, usually accompanied with cardigan and complete with full fit slippers. This photo sums up my memories of gran. Every Sunday the family would gather at gran’s for a full roast dinner. She would make the gravy in a large roasting tin and a spoon that she rotated in circles (getting rid of Bisto lumps I guess), which caused short gyrations of the apron – as you can see, she’s a big lass…’
There’s no deadline for sending over information, as this is an on-going project but Joanna would love to hear from anyone.
Those who have any memories of aprons, housecoats, dusters or pinnies – or maybe have one stashed in a drawer or hanging in a cupboard, or a picture of their grandmother in hers, that sparks joy, should contact Joanna.
Joanna holds a BA Hons Degree from Grays School of Art, Aberdeen and a Master of Arts from Manchester Metropolitan University. She has been self-employed since graduating in December 1992, starting as artist in residence for the Isle of Skye a few weeks later. In 2003, The Guild of Master craftsman published her book Papermaking and Bookbinding Coastal Inspirations.
She said: ‘My artwork takes inspiration from our heritage. As both participant and instigator of arts and heritage projects and collaborations, I have worked and exhibited in Taiwan, South Korea, Iceland, USA, Canada, Estonia, Catalonia and the UK while also exhibiting in Japan, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Finland, Oman, Kuwait, Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
‘My artwork is varied, and is as much at home in museums as art galleries, and am the recipient of an Iconic Artists in Iconic Places Award from Museum Galleries Scotland and Creative Scotland.’
Contact Joanna HERE.