Photo Credit: Shelly Goldsmith
'The Lovers' is a short term site specific installation commissioned by PUBLICARTHOUSE for the Duke of York public house, Royal Tunbridge Wells. The installation is inspired by the history of the pub and common folk law regarding Frederick Augustus, Duke of York and Albany (1763–1827) who was thought to bring his mistress to the Duke of York pub.The Duke, famed for his indecisiveness in battle as well as in love was ‘taken to the cleaners’ by his mistress Mary Ann Clarke ; it is said that the well known nursery rhyme ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’ is attributed to him. Using reclaimed garments the site specific installation presents a parallel story, instigated by the historical research into the Duke’s life and the mid century (20th) black and white photo of young men playing darts, currently hanging in the pub. The piece aims to draw upon the layers of romantic liaisons and social interaction taken place over the years the pub has been trading and the atmosphere of the pub environment, where stories are told and intimacies are revealed. The worked garments are placed in the pub as if they have been mistakenly left behind; waiting for their owners to return and claim them. Initial forays into the lost property at the pub revealed the array of hats, coats, scarves and gloves which have been left behind. One curious object, a pad with notes taken in shorthand became influential to the work. Using a reclaimed mans jacket and reclaimed female gloves, the familiar story unfolds. Profiles of two individuals are alluded to through a stream of consciousness, fleeting thoughts and emotions mirroring those of their historical counterparts and references how garments can reflect the experiences, history and shape of its wearer. Simple stitch is used to layer these imagined ‘outpourings’ or ‘stories’. Developing the tradition of woven ‘name tapes’ sewn into clothing for identification, the tapes in the installation, used in abundance, have been woven with the story that defines the wearers identity, often a burden carried everywhere they go. The glove present their story in a series of shorthand scripted tapes, shorthand a common skill of the ambitious 1950’s young woman. It references the historical story of Mary Ann Clarke, mistress to the Duke, who taught herself to read at a very young age and who made fame in publishing the secrets of her relationship with The Duke.
Reclaimed garments, framed photographs, museum objects