Finally I started reading On Brick Lane written by an author who had actually had a history with the place I was trying to be inspired by, Rachel Lichtenstein. Her grandparents had lived there and she also went back to live on Brick Lane herself. In her book she shares many experiences gathered from her family, people that she had become friends with and people that she had heard about when talking to other local community members.
One of the quotes that stuck with me was this:
‘Different threads combine to create a multi-layered portrait of a place.’
For some reason, something inside of me was awoken and I began to take my thought processes along the route of the textiles trade as Brick Lane had been renowned for this between 1880 until just before the outbreak of the second world war. I continued to read her book and also dipped into other sources to find out more about the Jewish 'rag trade'. I wanted to combine photographs of the area as it is now along with floral fabric reminiscent of that which would have been produced around the period I was looking at. I tried sewing my photos together with fabric between them, unsuccessfully and then inspiration was struck when my boyfriend suggested cutting parts out of the photographs. This looked great! (What would I have done without him!?) I stuck fabric behind to add the extra dimension of the fabric, relating it back to a 'multi-layered portrait of a place'. Finally I was getting somewhere and my creativity was flowing!
From somewhere I struck upon the idea of using my photographs, taken on and around Brick Lane, as the fabric using it to create a garment. I wanted to re-produce an authentic styled dress from the era however as my dress making skills were extremely limited (never before have I sewn a piece of clothing!) I decided upon a more simplistic modern-ish dress. "Keep it simple!" was the very good advice offered to me by a close friend who is a costume maker at the Royal Opera House in London. Needless to say I took the advice offered to me and often went back to her for more expert advice - she guided me well! (Thank you!)
The dress and I definitely had a love/hate relationship and it really was a challenge but that is probably why I am proud of the outcome as it has taken me away from the framed photographs I usually produce for an exhibition. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with framed images, I'd just had enough of sticking them on gallery walls and wanted to produce something that was a little different!
So, now the exhibition is hung and is open to the public. That is the next interesting phase, to see what people think of my new found photographic creativity! (Just don't look too closely at the sewing!)