Party in the Lilac Room was my final installation at Heritage Hill Museum and Historic Gardens, and took the form of a paste up style installation of tiny paper dresses site specific to the 1930s historic home Benga.
The paper dresses are printed images reproduced from the Heritage Hill museum catalogue records for the Hart collection.
The original dresses were owned by Mrs Dorothy Hart, and most of the dresses were probably kept wardrobes in the house for many years.
This installation frees the tiny dresses from the archives, for a brief but shimmering gathering in Dorothy Hart’s former home.
I enjoyed using catalogue records as part of a display – bringing a hidden administrative element of managing a museum collection out of their museological closet.
The cut outs stand in for the dresses in a way that has the appeal of paper dolls with change-able paper dresses. The paper dresses also remind me of insects, in the way that they fly out from the wardrobe and cluster toward the window.
The installation is a fanciful imagining of a gathering of the dresses, almost as ghosts returning to play in the space.
The format appealed to me for it’s simplicity. I cut out the dresses a few at a time in an evening, which echoed Dorothy Hart making the real dresses .
I try to use low impact materials for my art projects. My three installations at Heritage Hill used some recycled paper, less than a packet of blue tac, and, in the case of We Thought You Were Coming Tomorrow, objects I re-arranged and put back afterwards.
I like making ephemeral works that disappear (possibly not a good idea as no one can buy them), as ephemeral works echo the transience of the passing of time that my practice is concerned with.
As an adjunct to the installation I presented a talk where I spoke about the artwork and then looked through some of the dresses from the collection, followed by an afternoon tea! The event attracted a mixed age audience, including some mothers and daughters, some young women with babies, and some people from a nursing home with a carer.