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  • Writer's pictureLiz O' Connell

Wild Threads

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

This is my most up-to-date research for a Sunderland University Master's in Ceramics and Glass. My evolving art practice is based on complex themes but familiar objects. This current research is also a response to alternative MA modules created due to the shutting down of our face-to-face teaching/glass-making facilities during the present COVID-19 pandemic.

So, to carry on developing ideas, I'm going to weave glass strands and also explore cotton and linen threads in practical tests. Through using these materials in drawing and experimentation, my aim is to create a new body of research. I will then place that work into an historical and feminist context by looking at textiles and women's work through means of study online, and highlight the influence of the photographer Claire Gallagher and the writer Caroline Criado-Pérez.

I will then update this blog as a form of visual documentation of my drawing, textiles, and glass fusing.

Two key themes recur to me in my work. One is 'aduantas', an Irish word meaning the feeling of strangeness and unfamiliarity. Irish is so distinctive both in terms of its cultural contribution and its language and partly due to its 'island of Ireland' status. Another key theme is women's work i.e.: the billions of pounds of unpaid domestic labour and the low-grade status of that labour, the feminist perspective of economics, and the virtual invisibility of said women's work. This has been especially highlighted by the advent of COVID-19 and the pressing need of key workers, as for example, those in the NHS, cleaners, and caretakers - often women whose previously undervalued work is now gaining visibility and emerging as essential.

Artists' Research

Some of the artists I have looked at have approached the creative act of making through either a historical or personal perspective - often visiting the subject of women's undervalued work from a feminist perspective. I have looked at the following artists: Charlotte Hodes, Anne Petters, Vanessa Marr, Anni Albers, Cécile Dachary, and Kiera O‘ Toole.

The published work of the photographer Clare Gallagher and the writer Caroline Criado - Pérez have also influenced my overall philosophy and approach.

Clare Gallagher - ‘The Second Shift’

The Second Shift is the term given to the hidden shift of housework and childcare primarily carried out by women on top of their paid employment. It is physical, mental, and emotional labour which demands effort, skill and time but is unpaid, unaccounted for, unequally distributed, and largely unrecognised.

Hidden in plain sight and veiled by familiarity and insignificance, the second shift is largely absent from photographs of home and family. This work is an attempt to recognise the complexity and value of this invisible work. It is a call for resistance to the capitalist, patriarchal and aesthetic systems which ignore it.

(Taken from Clare Gallagher’s website:

Caroline Criado-Pérez ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men'

Representation of the world, like the world itself, is the work of men; they describe it from their own point of view, which they confuse with the absolute truth. (Simone de Beauvoir)

(This is used as an epigraph of the book.)

Globally, 75% of unpaid work is done by women, who spend between three and six hours per day on it compared to men's average of thirty mins to two hours. (Caroline Criado-Pérez)

(Taken from page 243 )

'Threadbare', woven, and slumped glass on a bobbin (24cm: from mill in Lancashire)


Tiny glass threads - delicate strands pulled from the glass-blowing process with James Maskrey

Materials for textile experiments.

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