Embroidery Circle with women supported by the Swansea Women’s Asylum and Refugee Support group

Wales | MARCH 2022

After 13 years of creation the last motifs of embroidery were added by 13 women supported by the Swansea Women’s Asylum Refugee Support Group (‘The Women’s Group’ https://www.scvs.org.uk/swansea-womens-asylum-refugee-support-group-may19), and right at the end of the day by 4 women from the UK who were visiting the exhibition.

The atmosphere was highly charged and full of excitement, and I found seeing and listening to the group of women from so many different cultures incredibly powerful and quite emotional. Each of the ladies with their own unique story and journey coming together around and through the Red Dress. I was amazed at how relaxed and integrated they all seemed in their new home of Swansea - a testament to the invaluable work that the Women’s Group is doing.

Suzanne Chung, Hong Kong/Scotland
Li Li, China
Tugba Gula, Turkey
Elif Erdem, Turkey
Sharmin Sadiq, Kurdistan
Rhowan Alleyne, UK
Beyhan Kucukbayrak, Turkey
Suad Nasir, Saudi Arabia
Nilu Ahmed (added first embroidery in 2020 at IWD event in Bristol)
Menna Buss, UK
Jenny Bickerstaff, UK
Heidi Mehta, UK
Olanike, Nigeria
Janingapara Katjiuanjo, Namibia
Redia Murema, Namibia
Funmi Layo, Nigeria
Naomi Gaskell, UK (the LAST motif (a Dragonfly) added to the Red Dress after 13 years of embroidery)


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 441 individuals around the world via 2 Crowdfunding campaigns in 2020 and 2022.

The Red Dress is one of the most power pieces of clothing I have ever seen
Angelica Colleluci, Head of Design & Productions at Ozwald Boateng
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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