Stitch and Photography at Dimbola Lodge Photography Museum

Blurred Boundaries: Stitch, Photography and the Landscapes of Virginia Woolf

Dimbola Lodge Museum, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight, PO40 9QE

30th August – 29th October 2014

We are really excited to be showing the first exhibition of our collaborative work that blurs the boundaries between photography and the stitched image.

Jo West is a photographic artist living and working in Sussex, creating both hand printed and digital imagery. Jo’s darkroom work is a reaction to the current proliferation of photographic mass reproduced images; she wants to see every photograph as a one off precious object. I am a textile artist living and working on the Isle of Wight, creating images with found, printed and dyed fabrics, together with the expressive ‘drawn’ line of stitch. Working collaboratively, mother and daughter, Mandy and Jo, we have developed a series of work pushing the boundaries of the photographic image.

Both of us share a fascination for the Bloomsbury group and the writings of Virginia Woolf. This body of work explores two of the landscapes that were so important in her life – the River Ouse in Sussex, where Virginia ended her life, and St Ives and Godrevy Lighthouse in Cornwall where the Woolf family holidayed and which later became the inspiration for ‘ To the Lighthouse’. Through this novel that explores family life Jo and I, and Jo’s daughter Bea, explore the complex family relationships over three generations. This also echoes the three generations that link Virginia Woolf to her great Aunt, Julia Margaret Cameron, the pioneering Victorian photographer who’s home was Dimbola Lodge on the Isle of Wight.

I use stitch to develop and extend Jo’s photographs, with an illustrator’s eye for storytelling. The triptych follows the three parts of ‘To the Lighthouse’; The Window, Time Passes and The Lighthouse.  Jo achieves a depth and texture in some of her work by printing her black and white darkroom images onto fabric. Together we interweave a history of place, people and landscape relating to Virginia Woolf (literally in the stitched frieze that runs round the gallery) and through our work, create a new story.

“so that the monotonous fall of the waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts … ‘I am guarding you—I am your support…”.

“Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.” 

Quotes from ‘To the Lighthouse’ Virginia Woolf, published 1927


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