UK Outreach Events
UK | 2020/2021
Having received a grant from the Arts Council Lottery fund, Kirstie is now presenting the Red Dress to communities around the UK with a continued aim of making the garment accessible to all.
Bristol Stitchers, Penny Brohn UK
I thoroughly enjoyed presenting the Red Dress to the Bristol Stitchers and sharing some of the stories of its artisans. Within the tranquil setting of Penny Brohn (a beautiful place giving free support to anyone with cancer) it felt lovely to connect with a group so dedicated to embroidery and who were also able to relate to many of the voices that were heard.
New embroideries added by:
My intention was to try and deliver the project in a way that would be accessible, engaging and uplifting. The event also involved the first public screening of Black Bark Films 10 minute exhibition documentary of the Red Dress.
The event for the deaf women was very joyous. I was supported by 2 (very lovely) interpreters who were so helpful in guiding me, and I was thrilled to see the women get so involved…..in fact they didn’t want to leave the room! Many poignant conversations were had, with much sharing and supporting. 3 of the ladies kindly added a small motif to the Red Dress’s fabric, as they were keen to see members of the world-wide deaf community on the garment.
Delivering the Red Dress to the visually impaired later in the day felt a little more challenging as the project is such a visual experience. However focusing on sound and touch some beautiful moments of connection to the dress unfolded. One of the ladies now in her late 70’s used to work in fashion, and had all the technical knowledge of garment construction, so I helped her trace her fingers on the seams and embroideries whilst explaining what was there.
New embroideries added by:
Connect Centre, Wells- open to everyone, yet much of their work serves the vulnerable communities of Wells and Mendip at large.
The Elim Connect Centre was an ideal place to show the garment, with an intention to bring together the community across all socio-economic backgrounds and create an opportunity for individuals to understand and experience the Red Dress project as a whole.
It was incredible! I was staggered by the amount of people who came…From WI ladies and young mothers, to men and women from roadside dwelling communities and homeless people who happened to be there on the day. Many inspiring and uplifting conversations were had, plenty of new connections and a whole lot of love for the Red Dress & its artisans.
Somerset embroiderer Kiki Jerome came to play the Bach Sarabande that she embroidered onto the Red Dress in 2020, and at the end of the event the following 3 individuals added a small motif of their own onto the garment who are credited below:
Shakti Christa Fox
Nelsons Trust Women's Centre in Bridgewater- a very special place offering support to women struggling with addiction and trauma.
From the moment you walk into the building you feel like you’re part of a family. As well as providing an invaluable support and healing structure for the women they look after, the dedicated team have created a very warm and caring environment.
I presented the Red Dress to both the staff and clients, alongside offering a stitching workshop. With the help of my good friend (and art therapist) Bee Blake we showed the ladies how to create their own woven ‘Soul Shelter’ - a beautiful project designed by Bee which promoted a lot of poignant discussion and reflection. I also explained how to create the same tiny embroidered flowers I added to the dress in Kosovo.
It was a peaceful and relaxing day, with a beautiful balance of sharing, listening and sitting in contended silence. Another example of the powerful and therapeutic effects of coming together and stitching.
Goddess House, Glastonbury
A memorable few days were spent with the Red Dress in the serenity and beauty of the many goddesses, candles, crystals and colours that fill the inside the building. The potent and peaceful environment invited deep reflection and connection to the garment, including many tears - which was very touching to observe.
A huge amount of people came, and some chose to stay for hours - absorbing and feeling the energy of the garment.
Each of the above events has its own energy and feeling, but all were equally moving and profound. I am continually amazed (and humbled) at the effect the Red Dress has on those who experience it. There are many different levels on which to connect with the work - be it technically through the embroidery stitches and dress construction, or the collaborative/community element, or perhaps the bringing together of so many different cultures and identities, but I feel the most powerful is the feeling of the voices and stories of the women involved.
I enjoyed the dynamic energy of the exhibitions - a constant flow of people, questions and discussions, whereas the more intimate presentations gave way to a deeper understanding of the project with an opportunity to share and reflect, and in some cases add a small motif on to the Red Dress itself.
Huge thanks to all who collaborated and supported me to bring these to fruition, and to the Arts Council Lottery Fund for enabling me to reach audiences who may not be able to access mainstream exhibitions easily.