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Drawing the Dress Collection An Artist's Perspective

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date9/11/2017
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventCloth Cultures : The Legacy of Dorothy K. Burnham - Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 9/11/201711/11/2017


ConferenceCloth Cultures
Internet address


“It is tantalizing that it is generally impossible to do more than touch the surface and
wonder what is underneath it”
Dorothy K. Burnham, Cut My Cote, 1973
This paper presents my perspective as an artist who has used ‘close looking’ to draw
dress artifacts and reinterpret those drawings into installation works. As such it
builds upon Burnham’s legacy of drawing at the Royal Ontario Museum and offers
insight into the use of drawing for researching artifacts. The paper is structured
around case studies of projects undertaken with dress collections at Kensington
Palace (2009-2013), The Bowes Museum (2013-2015), and most recently at
Ryerson University Fashion Research Collection (2016). Examining these projects
highlights issues around drawing’s capacity to record and communicate the feel,
sense or emotional impact of seeing the garments, and the usefulness of drawing as
a tool for capturing other sensory information alongside the visual. For instance,
drawing is acknowledged as form of touching (Marden 1979, Derrida 1993, Godfrey
1992), able to synthesise multi- sensory experiences as well as information derived
from textual research and imagination. In doing so the ‘slow approach to seeing’ is
extended to encompass other senses. By considering drawing as an “archaeology of
acts of touching” (Godfrey, 1992) or as means for “burrowing beneath the surface”
(Berger 1992), a fresh approach to how we might think about getting beneath the
surface of a garment, literally and metaphorically, is explored.