RESIDENCY JOURNAL: Lisa Gallacher

Entry #1 Lisa Gallacher Residency Parson Cross (June 2011)

Artist Lisa Gallacher lives and works in Glasgow and has been developing her practice to a national and international level for the past 12 years. Her work focuses on designing and creating wearable garment collections then can be seen as artworks in their own right.

Lisa has been making regular visits to Parson Cross to work with her selected group of collaborators on developing their ideas and personal stories relating to their neighbourhood into designs for their unique 'Made to Measure' garments. This is her second blog entry:-

“There are many stories about how Parson Cross got its name. It’s possible that at some point in the 1600’s, a parson placed a cross on the roadside to remind travellers that the lord was with them. Others say that there was a parson called Mr Cross and that someone may have slapped a parson and made him cross. It is also possible that two parsons crossed paths on the way to their respective churches every day.

Grant, a local key-worker told me about a parson who would station himself at the crossroads and take a toll from visitors to the area. His parson will wear a purple Teddy- boy style coat. The breast pocket could be embroidered with the emblem ‘PX’ and he may also have a neck-piece or sash that has been designed by members of his own ‘flock’.

In the 1980’s, instead of going to school one day - a young girl got on a bus to the area to see her older sister and stayed until her early twenties. Her dress will represent how Parson Cross became a place of sanctuary for her.

A former Sheffield Transport employee has travelled around the edges of Parson Cross for much of her life. She has marked the landmarks and routes that are significant to her on a map of Parson Cross which will be translated into a digital print and pattern for a blouse. “My grandparents were the first to move to Wheata road when the houses were built in the 1940’s”. As the third generation of her family to live in this house, Dawn wants a dress that will celebrate her heritage and the network of people and memories that connect her to Parson Cross.

Living alongside the human residents, are a large population of magpies, crows, foxes and domestic cats. The urban safari suit (camouflaged for Parson Cross terrain) will allow Ian to observe them without being seen.

Young people say that Parson Cross gets bad press. Jodie’s dress would re-write recent newspaper headlines to reveal the truth about life in the area. David wants a jacket that would reclaim the ‘S5’ post-code from its association with gang activity and Chloe’s outfit would show that despite its reputation, her community is a caring one.

Every Year in the spring, fields of wild flowers appear on the patches of waste ground where houses once stood. Laura’s garment will be edged with the poppies, sunflowers and forget-me-nots that represent (for her) new beginnings from old."

Entry #2 Lisa Gallacher Parson Cross Residency

First Blog Entry May 2011:

"Every person working with me over the course of my residency will develop their own unique garment inspired by family, community life and the locality of Parson Cross. My work is often the product of direct engagement with particular communities. I am drawn towards situations where I can explore what it means to belong (or not belong) to a particular place. The reason I was drawn to this residency being offered by Yorkshire Artspace was that it had a very specific location; Parson Cross. I hope that Parson Cross: Made to Measure will not only provide the chance for participants to exchange ideas and share skills but that during the course of the year I will understand a little better what it means to be from the Parson Cross.” January 2011

The following is an update from artist in residence in Parson Cross Lisa Gallacher following a ‘record breaking’ response to our glittering full page advert in local magazine 5Alive she has been on the Parson Cross trail and secured the first group of people who will work with her as part of Made-to-Measure: “How do you meet people when you arrive in a new place for the first time? Do you place an advert in the local press? Put up notices in the shop windows? Call the radio station and regional newspapers? Invite local residents to come and meet you at the community centre? When you put it this way the answer is obvious - but that’s how I spent January and February. In March however, Kate introduced me to Betty and I met Janet through Betty. I contacted Gwen through Sarah who then introduced me to Lisa. Ruthie told me about Anna and through Rachael mentioned Dan, who recommended I speak to Lucy.... who in turn introduced me to Grant and through him I will meet others - who (I hope!) will introduce me to their brothers, sisters, mums and dads.... grandparents, aunties and uncles.

It’s now April, I’m looking for 12 Parson Cross residents to collaborate with and I’m almost there...... As a stranger to Parson Cross and an artist who develops garment collections exploring ideas of locality and belonging, ‘Made To Measure’ will rely on developing close ties with these residents over the course of the next 8 months. Working with each member of the group, the project will involve creating a collection of bespoke garments that function collectively as a portrait of the area and its people. Unlike previous works, which have drawn on my observations of life in particular places (from the outside looking in), the ‘Made To Measure’ project positions Parson Cross residents very firmly in the driving seat. They will decide what we make, how, when and why we make it. I will be following their instructions towards developing a made-to-measure garment for each member of the group. Ultimately, this is a project that aims to capture the essence of life in a place from the ‘inside’ – from local people’s perspective. At this stage, I have no idea what that will look like - but also know that I’m in expert hands.”

Entry #3 Lisa Gallacher Parson Cross Residency

3rd blog by Lisa Gallacher, September 2011

"The ‘Parson Cross: Made To Measure’ garment design stage was finalised in July and my time in the interim has been spent further designing and tweaking the Parson Cross inspired fabrics that will be used to make six of the garments. These include Betty’s map design in cotton; Gwen’s wild-flowers in silk; ‘The Star’ newspaper headline fabric for Courtney; Anna’s ‘memory’ design in berry red; Janet’s butterfly poem satin and Lisa’s Dupion silk fabric that will remind her how she arrived in Parson Cross for the first time. Two of these fabrics have now been digitally printed and the rest will go into production when the samples are approved.

I have also been buying garment patterns for various dresses, blouses and tops, a cape, a Victorian gentleman’s frock-coat (actually much easier than you would think!), a hooded sports jacket and a tunic-style outfit. Other than that, I’ve been sourcing complimentary fabrics to be used alongside ones already printed and also to make the remaining four outfits. ‘Convict’ stripes and love-heart tulle for Shannon; weather-proof blacks, silvers and breathable mesh for Scott’s ‘Gang of One’ jacket; ‘warm’ violet and aubergine jerseys for Anna’s dress; olive green crepe for Gwen. Yorkshire ‘Melton’ navy wool will be used for Grant’s Parson’s coat and I have chosen lining fabric for Ian’s parka style poncho – which will be made from the blanket he rescued from a Parson Cross skip.

It’s all shaping up. Theres is still lots to do ....... but I feel I'm getting there. For anyone who likes to hear what I have been doing, I will be giving a talk on Tuesday 4th October between 5 pm and 6 pm at Persistence Works Studios. If you like to come, please let Rachael know on rachael@artspace.org.uk".

Entry #4 Lisa Gallacher Parson Cross Residency (November 2011)

"This week has been spent in Parson Cross doing more fittings. Betty’s blouse is finished and once the necessary alterations have been made on the other garments the collection will be complete.

If you were passing the English/Cross cafe on Friday you would have seen Ian and I busy with some (Extreme?) outdoortailoring, while Carl (the photographer) snapped away. Ian has named his parka-style-poncho (made from the blanket he rescued from a PX skip) – the 'Ponka’. When we met up, he produced a zip pull that he’s made for it (from found objects) and he also plans to make some buttons for the lapels.

I met with Betty and Janet for our final fitting on Thursday and we spent a good ten minutes laughing about the fact that Betty’s house (highlighted on her PX map blouse) is located in her arm-pit and that ‘Grenoside’ and ‘Ecclesfield’ mark ‘significant’ places on her anatomy too........and so it went on.

Lisa looks great in her dress. It’s a pale silvery grey silk with the cupped hands motif in repeat across the whole fabric - it looks very 1950’s and it’s first outing will be at one of the Christmas parties she’s going to.

Gwen’s tunic outfit really suits her too, we just need to bring the trousers in a bit and edge the top and jacket with her PX wild-flower fabric. Grant and the Yewland’s students are happy with their garments.

We have a few minor alterations to do on Scott’s ‘gang of one’ jacket and Shannon’s ‘convict’ dress. Grant has decided he would like the ‘PX’ monogram on his parson’s coat to be embroidered in silver and we’re planning another fitting for Courtney’s newspaper headline dress and Anna’s memory dress soon."

Entry #5 Lisa Gallacher Parson Cross Residency (January 2012)

"Until quite recently, I’ve been absorbed in the business of designing and printing fabrics. Developing garment designs and modifying garment patterns. Sourcing zips and matching fabrics; interfacings; shoulder pads; linings; buttons; threads and bias bindings. Preparing instructions for the seamstress. Travelling to and from Sheffield for fittings with each member of the group. Making bias bindings; covering buttons; trying to get collars to sit right; embroidering breast pockets. Stitching; un-picking; re-stitching. Adjusting hemlines, adding fabric - taking it away again; fitting zips; making button-holes; trimming threads; pressing collars and cuffs; attaching garment labels. AND worrying! Will they fit? Will they be flattering? Will the reality of each garment live up to the version that exists in Ian’s, Courtney’s, Betty’s, Janet’s, Gwen’s, Grant’s, Scott’s, Shannon’s, Lisa’s and Anna’s imagination?

And now that the garments are finished and with their respective owners in Parson Cross, hind-sight reminds me that this project was never really about ‘manufacturing’ a collection of clothes. Each garment is the byproduct of a relationship/series of relationships developed over the past year – and the result of conversations that have explored (amongst other things) the experience of living in/belonging to a particular place.

Conversations about the history of the area and the origins of its name, others expressing frustration at how Parson Cross is viewed negatively by outsiders. Conversations that have celebrated family and community life (past and present) - that have explored the geography of Parson Cross – its fluid boundaries. Discussions that have revealed the powerful sense of pride that local people feel for their area, as well as their hopes for its future - in light of the current regeneration process underway. Conversations about many things.

And when the garments are worn around Parson Cross and further afield, I hope that these conversations will be extended. They might start with a simple “That really suits you” or “That’s really unusual - where did you get it?”

And maybe they’ll continue where the garments began, with the personal stories that inspired each one. Whether you call it ‘Art’ or something else – this is what clothing can do."