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Ruth Battersby

This PhD by curatorial practice focuses on a group of embroidered textile testimonies made at the turn of the twentieth century by an inmate of the Female Lunatic Ward of Great Yarmouth Workhouse.

Lorina Bulwer’s embroideries embody the ‘subversive stitch’, expressing emotions and reflections on her life before and after she entered the Workhouse in visually descriptive and frequently transgressive language.

The research aims to situate the works as products of domestic textile-making cultural practices, informed by an analysis of the impact of gender, class and the use of textiles to communicate cultural and moral values, and within the institutional setting, where they become acts of self-assertion through material agency.

Close analysis of the content of the texts and archival research into the historical setting of their making aims to present the works within their biographical, topographical and cultural context.

The curatorial process will be interrogated by applying a reflexive lens to positionality, affective practice and subjectivity in developing narrative structure and interpretative voice.