Janette has lived her whole life in Essex. She joined EAST in 2003 and is currently the group's secretary, web designer and web manager.
As well as being a member of EAST, Janette is a member of the Chelmsford branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild where she has, in the past, held several committee posts, including chairman. She is a longstanding member of the Billericay branch of the Essex Handicrafts Association. As a member of the Eastern Regional Textile Forum she held the posts of website manager and newsletter editor, and Essex representative.
As well as an interest in textiles, Janette has a lifelong love of history and she always combines these two themes in her stitching. Her first body of work with EAST related to research into her own family history but since then she frequently uses the archives of the London Foundling Hospital as her starting point. Janette, (with historical researcher Gillian Clark), has developed a specialised interest and knowledge of the Foundling Hospital in the eighteenth-century, particularly the foundling tokens - the identifying objects left with infants taken to the hospital that enabled some to be later claimed and returned to their original families . The tokens, the children and other individuals connected with their story are themes Janette frequently returns to in her work. However when the group began a project commemorating the 1914-18 conflict, Janette researched women's involvement on the home front and the front line. Treasure, Hope and Friendship was the result of research into the war time work of Lady Smith-Dorrien and her Hospital Bag Fund, Maud Reive and her work with herbal medicine and Lena Ashwell who took Shakspearean theatre to the front line. Click HERE for a brief history of Lady Smith-Dorren's Hospital Bag Fund.
Janette links with the Foundling Museum include contributing to research for exhibitions such as Threads of Feeling and Fate, Hope and Charity, but also working there part-time, first as a volunteer and now as a paid sessional worker. Janette has also run and assisted in family workshops at the museum (individually and as part of EAST). The museum's collection and temporary programmes inspired her to begin a course of study with the Open University and take her interest in art history and heritage further. One module which focused on the Age of Enlightenment to the Age of Romanticism, inspired a body of work in the form of a miniature imaginary museum. Having completed a degree with the Open University, obtaining a first class BA (Hons) Open in 2016, Janette is now continuing her studies in historical research studying for a Research Masters degree in 2016/17 at the Institute of Historical Research, part of the School of Advanced Studies, University of London.
Janette has co-authored a small book on the subject of the tokens. "An Introductory Guide to the Tokens of the London Foundling Museum" and contributed essays to the book Fate, Hope and Charity, which accompanied the exhibition of the same title (2013). She has also contributed to the latest edition of the Foundling Museum guidebook. All these booklets are available for sale through the Foundling Museum.
Janette's personal blog, documenting her personal interests in art, textiles and history, can be found at - Artistic Threads
An Introduction to the Tokens of the Foundling Museum - by Janette Bright and Gillian Clark is now available through the Foundling Museum in London. Visit the museum or contact them by phone/email to purchase a copy - www.foundlingmuseum.org.uk.
The Miniature Imaginary Museum of the Enlightenment - by Janette Bright. To accompany work from the Making a Point! exhibition. This publication was available for sale at exhibition venues - Braintree, Cirencester and Snape. Copies are still available on request - contact Janette for details.
Contributor to Fate, Hope and Charity, the book to accompany the exhibition of the same name at the Foundling Museum. Copies of this book can be obtained through the Foundling Museum (details as above). In April 2013 Janette, along with the museum curator, Stephanie Chapman, were interviewed for a podcast for Londonist OutLoud. Their interview by N Quentin Woolf is still available via this link. Janette has also worked in an advisory capacity on foundling token history for various art, TV and radio projects, such as Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, (Reef TV, first shown on BBC2, Easter 2014 and repeated in 2015 and 2017).
For Following a Thread
For her latest body of work, Janette began by using research into a set of paintings (spalliere) in the National Gallery, which tell the story of Patient Griselda. This story, which dates to at least the medieval period, tells of a poor girl who is married to a rich marquise who tests her for her patience and virtue. Themes about value particularly in dress was a major part of this story. However, having worked on this subject for some time, it was a chance find in the London Foundling archives which once again completed this particular thread of research.
Of Trifling Value is a set of beaded and embroidered hearts - one created for each of six foundling girls who lived in the eighteenth century. The title of the body of work came from a comment made by Mary Largent, a girl beaten by her employer because she would not give up a gift she said was of "trifling value". The whole idea of gifts and why some things that more precious despite their financial value, was the thinking behind these pieces. The other girls that the hearts were made for were Eleanor Withers, Elizabeth Rainbow, Mercy Draper, Blanch Thetford and Fanny Rose. Eleanor, trained as an embroiderer but was unable to work after side effects following surgery. Mercy Draper and Blanch Thetford were both blind foundlings who won prizes for their stiching and were employed as singers. Fanny Rose set up her own school after she left the hospital but had to sell everything which she needed treatment in the London Hospital. Elizabeth Rainbow was seduced and murdered by her master because she was "too beautiful".
"The tokens and textiles of the foundling hospital archives" - a talk about the 18th century tokens and how they are used to inspire my own contemporary work; this talk can be adjusted so that it has either a more historical or textile bias.
"The Tragic Tale of Margaret Larney" - a talk about the true story of one woman who left two children at the Foundling Hospital in 1758, whilst awaiting execution at Newgate Jail. The story is mainly historical but does include some textile inspirations that relate to Margaret Larney and her life.
Contact: Janette@easttextile.co.uk for more information
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