And some details. The work is based on a vintage Italian menstrual cloth, provided by Il Sangue delle Donne’s curator, Manuela Di Leonardis. After the research and sampling phase, I slit the cloth and stitched around the slit with Sorbello stitches, using silk and cotton threads. I used linen thread to stitch sutures halfway up the slit and then dripped Sennelier ink in Carmine and Sanguine, I also added inky fingerprints.
Sofferenza (Itaian for suffering) is embroidered in Weeks Dye Works stranded cotton in Lancaster Red, using split stitch.
At this point it felt like there was something not completely right about the piece. It was finished but not finished. The element of shame and secrecy, the need to cover and hide wasn’t expressed. So I looked through my stash and found a vintage cloth in cotton organdie, embroidered and dainty, and pinned it to the cloth. It hid and revealed, silenced and drew attention. Then I embroidered Silenzia! (Italian imperative ordering someone to be quiet) to represent the way that women have been shut down, silenced and excluded, the way their biology is used against them to deny them equality of status and access, especially to education and work.
The covering coth is pinned to the base cloth with entomology pins, which are then sutured into place.
This is an extract from the accompanying text:
Felicity Griffin Clark, Sangue – Sofferenza – Silenzia, 2018
Vintage fabrics (pannolino, and organdie cloth), embroidery (linen, silk and cotton thread), ink, entomological pins
For most women menstruation is still taboo.
Taboo requires silence.
The power of the taboo is in the silence and the hiding.
Menstruation, and the shame that surrounds it, has been used as a pretext to deny women basic human rights such as education, work, equality.
These words tell of the experience of the blood of women.