1001 Funny Things you can do with a Skirt

The work for 1001Funny Things you can do with a Skirt began as research on the history and mythology of the skirt.
Writer Elizabeth Dancoes has done brief, original stories based on our research but in contemporary idiom.

My work for the series includes drawings, paintings and embroideries as well as digital images. For me this work reflects my intense emotional, expressive involvement in cloth, in sewing and stitching cloth, in interpreting cloth in paint and in pure, unadulterated, long hand stitching, the stitch as a teller of tales taking in and speaking with each breath, with each passing of thread through cloth.

In total we have worked together on approximately 10 stories and are currently working on more.

The images and stories are based on the ancient, mysterious gesture known as “Ana Suromai”, literally “to raise the skirt” {note: the current word in use is “Anasyrma“}. The origins of this intriguing gesture come to light in the Demeter, Persephone story from Ancient Greece. It is the gesture of the servant Baubo who was said to have brought Demeter out of her grief (over the loss of her daughter Persephone to Hades, the god of the underworld) by making her laugh.The gesture haunts so much of subsequent mythology and story that it can hardly be ignored.
Anasyrma (“to raise the skirt”) was an incitement to transformation.  And while its spiritual implications were deep, it encouraged laughter as a conduit to renewal. It resonates in fables in the guise of mysterious things concealed beneath a woman’s skirt and continues into modern times with the ever-present and compelling image of Marilyn Monroe’s skirts billowing over a subway grate.
And as anyone who as ever worn a skirt will tell you it is a spontaneous gesture.

Though the images reflect the humour and magic of Elizabeth’s stories, it was the sharing of our respective experiencing of the gesture of “Ana Suromai” that inevitably inspired the revelations that inform the visual notions that run through both text and image.

Please read our dialogue posts leading up to our next exhibition. Click on The Beginning: Ideas for Anasyrma in the menu bar for posts.


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