Image: Detail of The Red Dress (c) Kirstie Macleod, photographer Dave Watts.
The Red Dress is a decade long travelling embroidery project (2009-2019) by British artist Kirstie Macleod. Started with seed investment from the British Council Dubai in 2009, the dress began its journey at Art Dubai. Since that first exhibition it has travelled around the world being continuously embroidered and added to by 120 different participants to date.
Artisans who have worked on the dress include refugees in Palestine, victims of civil war in Kosovo, Rwanda and DR Congo, individuals from South Africa, Kenya, Japan, Paris, Sweden and Peru, embroidery studios in Bombay and Saudi Arabia, artists in Wales and Colombia and initiatives to support women in poverty such as Missibaba in Cape Town, South Africa, and Fanasina, working with Bedouin embroiderers based in the mountains above St Catherine's in Egypt’s Sinai.
Image: The Red Dress (c) Kirstie Macleod, photographer Dave Watts.
Talking about the purpose of the project, Kirstie explains: “Initially the work sought to generate a dialogue of identity through embroidery, and a merging of cultural boundaries and borders - but over the years with the collected stories of all involved the dress has come to represent much more. It has managed to travel and access disparate communities worldwide, getting directly into the skilled hands of vulnerable people, victims of war and oppression who are often not given a voice, and who are not easily able to earn a living.”
Image: Maria Carrion Jaulis, Peru.
In March the dress will be exhibited at the Museo Des Arte Popular in Mexico and is the subject of a forthcoming documentary by Black Bark Films. The film will follow Kirstie and the Red Dress as they travel from the gallery to the mountains of Chiapas, to meet two of the women who have worked on the dress. None of the 120 embroiderers have seen the final dress and Kirstie has yet to meet any of the embroiderers, so it will be an emotional event. Kirstie and Black Bark Films are currently working on a crowdfunding campaign to fund this final phase of filming.
For more information visit www.facebook.com/