|'Collecting Ladies I-III' series, 2018-9|
Watercolour, marine algae on Arches 300gsm
|'From Land and Sea: Rhodospermae, Melanospermae & Chlorospermae'|
Three pairs of vintage kid leather gloves, embroidered with silk
Thinking about women collecting algae and vascular plants in challenging conditions wearing their heavy garments, skirts, boots and gloves inspired me to embroider some vintage leather gloves myself. Gloves were made in supple yet tight-fitting leather so that they could mould the hand into the proscribed shape - dainty, with long tapering fingers; not flaccid yet not too muscular. They also kept the skin unblemished from the sun. Indeed, I had trouble finding a 'glove model' for my photo shoot, as even the largest glove would not fit today's narrow hand! These gloves could not get wet, so there is a paradox between the gloves and the act of collecting. The three sets of gloves represent the three classes of seaweed, but the scientific name for them has altered slightly. I have chosen to use the classifications instigated by Harvey in the 19th century - Rhodospermae (red); Chlorospermae (green) and Melanospermae (brown).
In 'Submerged', a series of 42 vintage handkerchiefs, I have used the cyanotype process again to reference women's work. The title refers to both the seaweed being submerged beneath the waves as well as the plight of women in academia and society.
Women of the 19th century had proscribed pastimes to help them while away the hours - botanical painting and collection, needlework, music and languages. In the mid 19th century, a craze for collecting seaweed was at its height, having taken over from fern collecting, or pteridomania. Botanical collections were pressed in special albums, on cards and in books, and became the subject of watercolours and dioramas. The series 'Collecting Ladies' references the etiquette of dress (handkerchiefs and gloves!) and the pastimes of lace-making, embroidery and botanical collecting.
|Installation view, The Hidden Sex, Julie Ryder.|
On the left of the installation photo are a series of large cyanotypes, made with seaweed I have collected on my travels. The cyanotype process was the first photographic process invented by Sir John Herschel, but it was pioneered by Anna Atkins in the 19th century, who used this new technique to produce handmade volumes of photographs of British Seaweed that she had collected. The New York Public Library are currently holding an exhibition of these images from the two editions they have acquired, but they are only on for another week. My work references the life-sized work made by Anna, but I have enlarged them to make a bolder statement.
|'Submerged' 2018-9, Julie Ryder|
Vintage handkerchiefs, cyanotype, seaweed
My interest in Victorian Glass Microscope slides has also been described in previous posts, but for this exhibition I had always wanted to produce a series that contained real seaweed and referenced the lace making done by women that appeared on handkerchiefs and clothing.
|'Flowers of the Sea, I-VI', 2019|
Glass, seaweed, hand engraving.
Lastly, as an avid collector of anything that the waves throw up, I have made a large wall installation 'Hortus conclusus' (which literally means hidden or secret or walled garden}. Made entirely from cuttlebones, these have been collected over a period of years and reference the aggressive passion for collecting multiples of everything by scientists and amateur scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries - even to the detriment of the species, and many species did go extinct, as did many ferns and other botanicals.
|'Hortus conclusus' 2019 Julie Ryder|
There is an amazing podcast out at the moment which gives further insight into this gender swapping hosted by Benjamin Law, called Look at Me. Click here , and listen to the end where a very poignant story is told by underwater photographer, PT Hirschfield (IG: @pinktankscuba)
I do hope you will get to see my exhibition at Craft and if you are on Instagram, you can follow my whole journey with the making of work for the exhibition @julierydertextiles
I love hearing your comments, critiques and thoughts about my work, so please don't be shy! And if you have enjoyed this post, or my work, please pass on my blog and Instagram details to others 💚