Life Lines workshop to pen stories of textile treasures

Dr Sarah Casey uses a needle pen to draw into wax to recreate the christening robe
Dr Sarah Casey uses a needle pen to draw into wax to recreate the christening robe

What stories do clothes tell? What clues do they reveal about the wearer?

An intriguing workshop, entitled ‘Life Lines’, will feature the christening robe and a shirt that Victorian poet, writer, art critic and artist John Ruskin actually wore.

The clothes have been researched by Dr Sarah Casey, of Lancaster University, working closely with Ingrid Mida, a ‘dress detective’ historian and curator from Canada.

The November event, at Brantwood, Ruskin’s former home, will be led by Dr Casey, a Senior Lecturer in Drawing and Installation, who will help uncover fascinating facts about the clothing as part of a wider research project forming part of the John Ruskin bicentenary celebrations next year.

Lancaster University is home to the Ruskin Library and Research Centre for Culture Landscape and the Environment, which house The Whitehouse Ruskin Collection - the largest collection of artworks and manuscripts by Ruskin anywhere in the world, including a significant number of works on permanent display at Brantwood.

Ahead of a special exhibition next year, featuring Dr Casey’s drawings, which will herald the start of the celebrations at Brantwood, ‘Life Lines’ is being run in partnership with the Brantwood Trust and is part of the Being Human Festival, the national festival of the Humanities.

“The workshop is all about the stories that clothes tell and how we can use drawing to see their details to pick up clues about the people who wore them,” explains Dr Casey.

“The garments have been researched through my drawings and in collaboration with ‘dress detective’ Ingrid Mida, from Ryerson University Toronto,” explained Dr Casey.

Ingrid Mida is the author of the internationally acclaimed book ‘The Dress Detective’ which teaches a method of close examination of historic clothing.

“The workshop will explore how the 19th century critic and social thinker John Ruskin taught drawing as a way to scrutinise the world and we invite people to come and apply Ruskin’s teaching to his own clothing from the origin and endings of his life – his christening robe and clothing worn in old age.

“The baby clothes are really evocative and capture the imagination – not what you normally see of Ruskin.”

The workshops includes hands on activities where families are invited to make their own drawings of Ruskin’s clothing and tell the story of their own textile treasures with Dr Casey’s help.

Workshops take place throughout Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 November starting every 30 minutes between 11am and 3:30pm.

For more about the Life Lines workshop please go to:

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