Bee Blake
UK | 2021


SECTION OF DRESS: Rainbow Serpent

A textile artist and trained councillor working with dreams creates a Rainbow Serpent after a synchronistic connection.


Bee Blake had been following the Red Dress for over a year and was actively trying to find its location within the UK. About a month ago a conversation led a local friend of hers to share that not only was it in Somerset, but the Red Dress (and I) lived in the very same village that she had just moved to!

Our mutual friend introduced us over email, and as soon as time allowed, I popped the dress in the car and went to visit!

Bee’s beautiful home is adorned with all sorts of textiles, embroideries, wall hangings, ornaments and objects - all created by her in an ongoing investigation of her life’s journey and of her own healing.

Bee is a trained counsellor and arts therapist who has been studying and working with dreams since 1973. She is also currently studying IAT, a healing therapy using chakra energy points within the body. Bee has worked with many vulnerable groups and individuals over the years, and with such a warm heart, humility, depth of understanding and innate wisdom I can imagine the impact she would have made on so many people’s lives.

Bee began her journey with embroidery in 1981 in North Devon, when she felt unexplainably drawn to a lady in her yoga class. They connected and began a mutual exchange of their skills…this lady - a fine embroiderer taught Bee the art of stitching whilst Bee was able to help the other come to terms with her childhood trauma through counselling.

I asked Bee whether she would like to add an embroidery onto the Red Dress and she was thrilled. I picked up the skirt from her house a week later, and found a Rainbow Serpent expertly added to the garment.


OUR SUPPORTERS

A huge thank you to all who have given their time, energy, enthusiasm, advice, experience and financial support to the Red Dress project over the years.

In addition to the institutions below, funding has been gratefully received from a number of private donations and 344 individuals around the world via a Crowdfunded campaign in 2020.

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The Red Dress in its final incarnation, a magnificent, regal robe, symbolises the empowerment of women through the creation of something beautiful, something which began with bowed heads and tired fingers but also with faith and joy, an openness and willingness to be a part of something which they could not see at that time but in which they could believe had meaning and worth connecting with other women around the world
Lady Alison Myners, Chair of the Royal Academy Trust 2020
The Red Dress is in some respects similar to Mail Art, the populist artistic movement centred on sending small scale works through the postal service. It initially developed out of the Fluxus movement in the 1950s and 60s – but on a larger scale – the journey of the work is part of its identity, process, and in fact function. A signifier of the temporal and physical nature of the process inherent in the creation of the piece. The surface of the dress layered with embroidery slowly transforming into a specific topographical map – completely particular to the work’s journey – and reflective of the burgeoning sculptural landscape of the object
Paul Black, Artlyst 2015
It’s her (Kirstie’s) red silk Dupion bodice and voluminous skirt created for the Red Dress that fully demonstrates her commitment to embroidery and the immense respect for the international community of makers
Denna Jones. Embroidery Magazine 2010
I can't remember when they embroidered that piece of silk (2018?) but I feel that something has changed since. The fact that they could embroider what they wanted and that it is appreciated has given them some strength, some confidence that I didn’t feel so strongly before. Last year, I sent them a drawing and asked them to “interpretate" it the way they wanted; again it came back with a lot of emotions, another beautiful story. Thank you for giving them this opportunity
Nicole Esselan, Founder of Kisany Africa (supporting artisans in DR CONGO and RWANDA)
This is both an extraordinary work of collective art and profound and eloquent social commentary. It is also an example of how potent the Attire language is capable of becoming
Attires Mind (Fashion Blogger) 2020
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