Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Thea Haines: Field Dress

Thea Haines Field Dress; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen 2012
Although Thea Haines does not explicitly name her, I imagine Laura Secord was garbed in clothes like this when she risked life and limb and set out on June 22, 1813 to warn British forces of an impending American attack. Field Dress answers WWLW (What Would Laura Wear?). Thanks to Secord's bravery, the British won the Battle of Beaver Dams.
Thea Haines Field Dress; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen 2012
Field Dress is an installation of five articles of clothing that Thea hand-stitched and dyed with natural dyes and is included in an exhibit, 1812-2012: A Contemporary Perspective, at York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. In a post entitled Provisions for a Northern Climate (on her blog Domestic Scientist), she documents the making of this body of work. Thea is currently an MA Candidate in Textile Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design in London, UK. Thea provides more documentation on the Beehive Craft Collective blog here.
Thea Haines Field Dress; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen 2012
Field Dress is presumably installed in the order, from left to right, of how the layers would have worn with those closest to the body on the left. Seeing the top image, I wonder how tall Laura Secord would have been. It's obvious that the installation does not address her height. If it did, the garments would be too short. Squinting at the top image, I mentally erase the hangers. Is it strongest with or without the hangers? A strength of the installation is that it moves with the air currents. Each time a person walks by Laura Secord's ghost responds. This made photographing the work difficult, but worth the challenge.
Thea Haines Field Dress; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen 2012
I visited this show twice before writing this post. Each time I walked around the installation, I noticed new details that I appreciated. What is the text couched onto the dress? I couldn't quite make it out and this pleased me. Mystery is a good thing.
Thea Haines Field Dress; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Thea Haines Field Dress; Photo Credit: Karen Thiessen, 2012
Looking at the above two images, it's clear that Thea wields a fierce embroidery needle. The contrast of the various embroidery thread textures is pleasing. I imagine that Thea's hands and wrists may have ached from so much stitching, especially with the chunky yarns. Field Dress offers the viewer much to contemplate.

1812-2012: A Contemporary Perspective continues until July 15, 2012 at York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queen's Quay West, Toronto.

1 comment:

Judy Martin said...

Thank you for introducing me to Thea Haines' work, Karen. This installation looks really powerful. Emotional.