Three Green Dresses by Jenni Cresswell

Three Green Dresses: Transforming dresses and revealing narratives

Jenni Cresswell

July 2017

Over the last few years, my personal creative practice has transformed to become more obviously about my personal stories.  This development of my work to reveal my inner stories has continued to present challenges in achieving a balance between how much of myself to reveal or conceal.

My work centres on using second hand clothes – particularly dresses – as inspiration and starting point.  I like to choose dresses that already tell a story through their past ownership and through the worn out marks that they have acquired.  My work usually involves deconstructing the dresses to reveal previously hidden, secret parts of the fabric.  I then add my own narrative to that of the dresses by embellishing with a variety of techniques including print, hand & machine stitching.  Taking dresses apart reveals a deeper truth of their story and by the same token reveals something more fundamental about myself, however destructive the process of exposure seems.

In Three Green Dresses, I curated the deconstruction and embellishment of three dresses through film and photography of the various stages of each dress’s transformation.  Although not initially concerned with using these images as anything more than my own record, I ended up creating a 2.5-minute film to run alongside the displayed dresses.

The three dresses represent different aspects of my life: family and tradition, romantic love and choices made, the unknown future and ageing.  Read together they hint at a whole story, one that contains a sense of nostalgia for my past and also for my future.  The use of film helps the viewer to decipher the messages contained within the dresses, juxtaposing images of the dresses alongside each other in a triptych.

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