Mrs. Williams: an homage to a homemaker

The "Ready for Dinner" Housedress

The "Ready for Dinner" Housedress

Artists Melanie Thompson and Judith Barnett have created a stunning installation in praise of women's work. "We are the makers of every item in the show," says Melanie. Melanie is a basket maker and mixed media artist. "Judith," describes Melanie, "is an accomplished seamstress with no formal art background but boundless enthusiasm."

Installation view.

Installation view.

Triptych by Melanie Thompson

Triptych by Melanie Thompson

"The installation of a 1950s kitchen was inspired by an old wooden recipe box given to Judith by her 93-year-old neighbour Mrs. Williams. The box held a lifetime's recipes, all beautifully scripted in pen and ink. The idea that this box represented the lifetime of one woman's work seemed too great not to acknowledge in art. The strong emotional and nostalgic feelings it provoked felt like a call to make a body of work that referenced the era of the homemaker in the 1950s-honouring women’s work."

The "Everyday" Housedress

The "Everyday" Housedress

Installation view.

Installation view.

"We have made a wide variety of art pieces evoking the homemaker style of the 50s," describes Melanie. "The iconic apron and house dress have been rendered in knitted copper wire, pattern paper, tea stained canvas covered with written recipes, cotton embroidered and dyed with onion skins, image transfer on painted organza, recipe pages, black garden netting and pieced material remnants. There are mixed media wall pieces using stitching, buttons, collage, embroidery, and acrylic paint. Mixing bowl sets made with looping copper wire, handmade paper, and chicken wire as well as stitched samplers on baking trays and a cutlery box with utensils from the era. We have stitched and repaired clothing, small wire houses, recipe books deconstructed, handmade books, a set of pot holders and a tea cozy made from used tea bags and so many more items too numerous to describe. It needs to be seen to be fully appreciated."

Apron made from chicken wire.

Apron made from chicken wire.

The work is on view at the Artcraft Showcase Gallery on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia until
July 5, 2017.

Editor's note: Below these paper dresses, the third card from the left is from the UPPERCASE book Feed Sacks: The Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric by Linzee Kull McCray.

Editor's note: Below these paper dresses, the third card from the left is from the UPPERCASE book Feed Sacks: The Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric by Linzee Kull McCray.