ABOUT KIRSTIETHE CREATOR OF THE RED DRESS project
Kirstie has worked as an artist for 20 years, and on the Red Dress for the last 14. What began as a sketch on the back of a napkin in 2009, has 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 culture, colour, language and experience. Trying to make sense of her journey whilst beginning to form her own sense of identity she immersed herself in drawing, painting and sewing.
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. Kirstie later gained a BA in Textile Design followed by an MA in Visual Language & Performance before beginning her career as Fine Artist living in London. The works formed a diverse portfolio comprising photography, film, painting, drawing and high impact installations involving garments.
Embroidery soon became a focus. Kirstie was inspired by its diversity and potential for expression, communication (or subversion) and as she studied further by its history and practice throughout the world - as an art form, in daily life and the meditative and healing effects experienced through its creation. A significant point came in 2002 whilst Kirstie was travelling in southern India and spent many hours stitching and embroidering alongside Karnatakan women creating a simple jacket. Although unable to communicate to each other in words they shared a 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 inspired its creation).
The Red Dress began in 2009 as an investigation into identity, and 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 to become a vehicle for expression and a platform 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.
As the world continues to rebuild after the pandemic, and is still subjected to war, oppression, inequality and extreme poverty 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 with compassion and humility we can uplift and support one another and hopefully build a better world for the next generation.
Kirstie has recently been elected as an Ambassador for the Textile Society “for her sustained commitment to The Red Dress as a global community project, the outcome of which has become an icon of contemporary world textiles”.
The Textile Society is a unique community and brilliant resource for all textile professionals and enthusiasts around the world. Please see:https://www.textilesociety.org.uk/ for more info.
To view a selection of Kirstie’s own textile based art please see the website: www.kirstiemacleod.co.uk