ABOUT KIRSTIETHE CREATOR OF THE RED DRESS
Kirstie has worked as a Textile artist for 16 years, and on the Red Dress for the last 12. What began as a sketch on the back of a napkin in 2009, has now grown into a global collaborative project involving hundreds of people all over the world.
Growing up in various far-flung countries Kirstie’s former years were saturated with contrasting cultures, colours, languages, and experiences. Trying to make sense of her journey whilst beginning to form her own sense of identity she immersed herself in drawing, painting and making textiles.
Textiles were always present growing up; the women of Kirstie’s family all skilled stitchers, knitters and makers so it was only a matter a time before she herself picked up a needle and thread. At 9 years old, she was taught to embroider in a craft class held by a warm-hearted Indian lady whilst living in Nigeria, and something clicked. Kirstie later gained a BA in Textile Design followed by an MA in Visual Language before beginning her career as Fine Artist living in London working with textiles - but often in unusual ways. The works form a diverse portfolio comprising embroidery, photography, film, painting, drawing and installation.
Embroidery soon became a focus, Kirstie was hugely inspired by its diversity and potential as a means of expression, communication (or subversion) and as she studied further became captivated by its history and practice throughout the world both as an art form and in daily life, and the repetitive, meditative, and healing effects experienced through its creation. A significant point came in 2002 whilst travelling in southern India, where Kirstie spent many hours stitching and embroidering alongside Karnatakan gypsy women creating a simple jacket. They were not able to communicate to each other in words but shared that time of connection through the mutual act of stitching. (A few embroideries collected during this trip can be seen on the Red Dress as an honouring of the seeds that led to it’s own creation).
The Red Dress began in 2009 as an investigation into identity, with a desire to connect with women from the around without borders and boundaries. As the years unfolded so too did the potential of the garment as a vehicle for expression and for voices to be heard. The Red Dress has managed to access disparate communities worldwide, allowing connection and conversation between individuals who may never meet in person.
At this time, as the world rebuilds after the pandemic, the garments message seems even more important. What we can achieve working together in community and collaboration is far more impactful than trying to work alone. In taking down the many boundaries and borders and coming together in service, with compassion and humility we can uplift and support one another and hopefully build a better world for the next generation.
Kirstie lives in rural Somerset with her partner and children, balancing a simple life aligned with nature, yoga and meditation with the privilege of guiding the Red Dress as she begins a new chapter of exhibitions all over the world.
To view a selection of Kirstie’s art please see the website: www.kirstiemacleod.co.uk