I recently finished work on the film documentation of The Urban Cloth Project.
Sharon Kallis, Tracy Williams, Mirae Rosner and Rebecca Duncan worked together to make this project happen. It looks at how we can grow and process fibre to make cloth in our own community, and what is involved in the large-scale industrial production of clothing around the world.
Original music composed and performed by Clara Shandler.
“Joined by Thread” is a ten minute film that follows a group of women who work together to create a wedding dress from two older dresses. Ashleigh, the bride to be, her mother Lynda and her future mother-in-law Rose, meet with environmental artist Sharon Kallis, who helps them to see the beauty in reclaimed fabric, the history imbedded in our clothing, and to avoid the crass and wasteful “Wedding Industry” that promotes an unsustainable, consumer lifestyle.
Rose Burden, Ashleigh Wallace, Lynda Wallace, Willow Spindler
I was fortunate to have another opportunity to work with my friend and frequent collaborator Sharon Kallis, in a realm I had little knowledge of: weddings, and in particular, the wedding dress. In much of contemporary western culture, the wedding ritual has become commercialized to the point that meaning has been stripped away from many of the most beautiful moments and replaced with a pumped-up orgy of expense, competition, and waste. In this case, the humble act of sewing and the sharing of family history through fabric reveals a richness that has no price tag.
Ashleigh Wallace and Sharon Kallis
It was a challenge and an invaluable learning experience to shoot solo in a very confined space where events unfolded quickly and unexpectedly. I am in debt to all of the participants who were so generous and open in sharing a very intimate and emotional moment on camera.
In the fall of 2010 I began an eight month documentary film program at Capilano University, after having spent a year traveling. I have been involved in the visual arts for my entire adult life, as a painter, photographer and educator and had made several short films, but this was the point when I decided to seriously start a new career as a film maker.
Silk production in Cambodia
During my first term at Capilano, I made a five minute film entitled “Threads” which looks at spinning and weaving, and touches on larger ideas that come from the history of cloth production. I had been inspired by a visit to a weaving school in Cambodia, where young people are taught to raise silkworms and produce finished silk items as a way of bringing skills and employment to a country still suffering from the effects of war and genocide.
I was assisted greatly by Capilano faculty members Anthea Mallinson and Ruth Scheuing, who I interviewed for the film, as well as several students studying in the Textiles program. It was also an early opportunity to work with classmates Marina Dodis, Derrick Daniels, and Bernardo Rodriguez as part of my crew, and Jack Silberman as my knowledgeable and supportive faculty mentor.
Interviewing Ruth Scheuing, with Marina Dodis and Derrick Daniels
The contemporary use ancient technologies, as a way of bringing hand-based skills back into everyday life and community are of great interest to me and have helped direct much of my activities over the last year. The growing interest in urban farming, locally made clothes, and the culture of DIY over rampant consumerism are a small sign of choices being made by ordinary people, living in times of great change.