The second series of practice in my ‘Domestic veil’ exhibition, looking at the theme of women trapped in the home in mid-nineteenth-century gothic novels, uses the idea that the trapped heroine’s only means of communication is through her needlework skills. So rather than just marking her imprisonment by tallying the days using her pins and needles, as she did in the ‘sanctuary and prison’ section, she is now actively communicating to the outside world using the net curtain as her canvas. However she is using coded communication to disguise her messages. She uses bobbin lace in the net curtain pictured above to embed the words ‘help me’ within her lace.
I also produced a ‘virtual’ sampler using the Illustrator computer program rather than actual stitching to highlight the heroine’s plight. The full text of the sampler reads ‘I sew a long seam and my pins and needles help me for sometimes the thread escapes me’ but the layers of text fade in and out to reveal the hidden phrases ‘help me’ and ‘I long for escape’ reflecting the concealed thoughts of the seamstress.
In other pieces, such as 'I warned you' shown above, I have used interactive cross stitched QR codes to hide hidden messages. These can be read by the app on a smartphone to reveal their hidden words and suggest that all is not harmonious in the domestic environment veiled by the net curtain. So far the net curtain has been used as a surface for coded communication of the inhabitants of the home but in the next chapter ‘Silent witness’ it starts recording what it hears in the home.
what a hard life - oppressed/suppressed ... and aware of it...
Yes, I think many of the Victorian women this research is based on felt that way.
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