Friday, 25 March 2011

“ Washday Liberation”

I visited the Slough Museum in June 2010 and took a number of photographs of the exhibits. The particular things which struck me on my first visit were the items from the local brickworks and the kitchen from the ?40s/50s. When I later reflected on the photos I had taken, I realised that the kitchen had struck a personal note. It reminded me of my Grandma’s kitchen in Cardiff in the early 50s. I particularly liked the image of the old mangle – I think a lot older than my Grandma’s, but I remembered getting my fingers stuck in her mangle when I played with it, when told not to!

I explored the image of the mangle, and found another vintage mangle in Warwick Castle on a recent visit. I broadened this to a search of the history of the washing machine via the internet, and found other images of bygone washdays. Then I found a reference to an article in 2009 in ‘L’Osservatore Romano’, the Vatican newspaper. The writer was suggesting that the washing machine was one the major factors in women’s liberation, rather than contraception, women working outside the home or other more commonly held views. I found this amusing as well as challenging.

So I decided to use the mangle as a symbol of women’s past drudgery.

I used photo transfer to incorporate photos of mangles, and washing machines and a reference to the article. I used some dyed fabric in Green, blue, brown shades to pick up the green of the mangle frames, and a commercial fabric which picked up some of the colours to brighten it up. When part assembled I felt that the ‘sameness’ of the colours did not sufficiently highlight the images, so I ‘framed the images with a contrasting fabric.

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