Unacceptable

Long ago my friend and colleague, the late Dr Chris Seeley, had an interview at Ashridge. She was told that her clothes were “unsuitable”. She was wearing a green mushroom print dress, and she later wrote in her journal just how judged that comment made her feel.

Chris died in December 2014. At her memorial service, her husband Geoff Mead and others, arranged an exhibition that included the outfit she’d been wearing that day, along with her journal entry. I knew that I wanted to make some art as a response to that, but it took some years before my reaction “composted” enough.

In 2019 I began collecting stories through my social media connections. I asked people if they’d ever been made to feel unsuited, unwelcome or unacceptable because of dress or physical appearance. There were many responses – it seems almost everyone has a story. 

My artwork incorporated these stories into large boards, alongside images of Chris’ clothing, arranged in an installation piece of green cloth and giant mushrooms. The piece was due to be exhibited in Bristol as part of a fund-raising auction for the cancer care centre – Penny Brohn- that had cared for Chris. Sadly that event was another victim of lockdown. I hope the installation gets another opportunity – and raises some funds for the centre – one of these days.

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