Paul Dearman, graduate BA Textiles 2008
Statement: I am an embroiderer. I sew instinctively and meticulously, weaving the threads and stitches together to create a picture, a scenario, and a narrative. Nostalgia for a past I haven't experienced coupled with a sense of history are the building blocks of my work.
The embroidery featured on this page concerns itself with minutiae, chance meetings and historical apocrypha. The Festival of Britain (1951) saw Britain attempt to redefine its sense of identity post war by looking, not to the future but the past, a Great Britain redux built around the creation and preservation of tourism. An attempt to freeze in aspic a certain sense of Britishness, of bowling lawns and summer fetes, the Women's Institute and cups of tea. A comforting illusion created for the consumption of the masses.
By producing the "The Country Wife", a large-scale embroidery detailing the assumed routines of women's lives post war, Constance Howard became a part of this fantasy. Whilst stylistically modern, the concept of this work was a reflection of the attempt to lead women back into their pre war domestic roles.
Although conservative principles guided her work as an artist and educator the results were avant-garde, pushing the boundaries of contemporary textiles and opening a door to the future.
She was undoubtedly a great woman, a champion of embroidery, an inspirational educator, a successful artist and very stylish to boot. By representing Constance as Britannia I am examining the dual qualities of establishment figure and rebel encapsulated within her and her work.