|Detail of the bust area of the dress|
OPHELIA: A SPLENDID...ANCIENT DRESS
I took my inspiration from a quote from J.E.Millais, describing the dress he used in his painting 'Ophelia'.
Millais wrote to Thomas Combe in March 1852: 'Today I have purchased a really splendid lady's ancient dress - all flowered over in silver embroidery - and I am going to paint it for "Ophelia". You may imagine it is something rather good when I tell you it cost me, old and dirty as it is, four pounds' (J.G. Millais I, p.162).
So, with the image of 'a really splendid lady's ancient dress' in mind I set to work in January of this year to create a life sized 'splendid dress'; not dirty in the least, but strewn with many of the blossoms from Shakespeare's account of his doomed heroine's flowery demise. The main structural component of the dress is my own handmade paper, painted in oils and enamels, with the addition of about 50 hand painted flowers, also constructed from my hand made paper, which are painted in waterbased paint and then resined and attached to the body of the dress. The complete work was then resined. Only after finishing it did I realise there was not even a hint of the tragic about my 'dress'. It's just a creation typifying what I always strive for : beauty, intense attention to detail and the enjoyment of stretching the boundaries of my technical skills to achieve a work that responsive to a well loved theme but stands alone, intrinsically, as an totally new creation.