Janette Bright

Felix Foundlings
I have been inspired by stories of the past for as long as I can remember.  Most recently I have been creating work relating to eighteenth-century London history; in particular, the archives of the Foundling Hospital.  These archives hold fragments of fabric, thread and ribbon, as well as words.

Through textiles and stitch, I aim to reveal the hidden lives of real individuals.  I often contrast what I can find about their experiences to those of my own.  In that sense it is a conversation with the past.
Much of my work is 3D, hand stitched and I frequently add text; often taken directly from the archives.   I use photographs to reference the capturing of time.  When it feels right, I like to embellish with bead embroidery.  At other times I keep my pieces plain. I often use the symbol of the heart to indicate individual lives.

Bridging the Gap

The inspiration for this current work began with the portrait of a duchess.  
Living in the eighteenth century, Isabella Montague (1706-1786) had wealth and status.  
Yet despite all her privilege she had few of the freedoms experienced by most women of the twenty-first century.  

Coincidentally myself and the duchess probably travelled along the very same streets, but separated by 300 years she would not have had the same freedom that I can experience today.  

My work is still in progress, but I am working on a stitched map that merges images and text to consider the social changes experienced by women in a small area of London.  The map itself will be a combination of hand stitching and applique.      


Lectures and workshops

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.

Fashioning the Foundlings
How the children of the Foundling Hospital were educated during the eighteenth century - reading, writing, stitching, darning. All was considered suitable education for a typical foundling child turning him or her into a 'useful citizen'. 

The Rise and Fall of the Tambour Hook
Based on research for The Power of Stitch, this talk looks at evidence as to how and why tambour embroidery arrived in London in the mid-eighteenth century. It quickly became fashionable before being replaced by new techniques. Did it make one woman rich and others poor? Did the foundling girls learn a useful trade?

For more information contact me on email: jmbright126@gmail.com