Material Remains: Diana Winkfield


16 February 2013 - 8 September 2013


Material Remains was an exhibition created specifically for The Bowes Museum’s award winning Fashion & Textile Gallery.  It was the first showing of this new body of work in the UK.

It was a captivating exploration by artist Diana Winkfield, resulting in evocative paintings, drawings and installations with found objects, particularly clothing, discovered while refurbishing her farmhouse in France. They inspired her to examine fabric matter in varying stages of wear and decay, left behind by people from across the class divide.

Paralleling the observations commonly recorded by archaeologists, museum curators and conservators, Winkfield’s work focused on the analysis of the colour, fabric, shape, texture, condition and origins of such objects to reveal a jumble of memories, which unravelled and weave real and supposed stories.

Her work, which considered the cultural ideal embedded in French society and expressed life and loss through paintings of found garments, was also inspired by items from The Bowes Museum, whose founder Joséphine Bowes was French. Joséphine was a contemporary of the Empress Eugénie whose collection of costume in the Museum inspired Winkfield to create a magnificent painting for the exhibition.

She also took inspiration from two corsets from the mid 18th Century in the Bowes Collection - one delicate and feminine, reminding Winkfield of ‘ornamental tiny women held from morning to night on painful display’, the other of coarse brown twilled cotton, worn and reworn, patched and repatched, darned and mended, calling up images ‘of a big boned strong peasant woman who once wore it.’

Curated by Annabel Talbot, this exclusive show resonated with those involved with historic and vintage clothing.

Winkfield studied drawing, painting and printmaking under Elizabeth Blackadder at Edinburgh College of Art, and History of Art under David Talbot-Rice at Edinburgh University during the 1960s before going on to have a successful career as a painter, selling her work through top London galleries. Her work features in numerous public and private collections.

Read about Diana's experiences in her blog about the planning and research stage of her exhibition, and how it comes to fruition in Material Remains at the end of her journey.