Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Agnes Richter's Jacket

When we first talked about opening Shelf I was keen to do a project involving Costume Designers and prison uniforms, I thought there could be a really interesting exhibition exploring how people express their personalities and their character through the constraints of uniform and I was particularly keen on having Costume Designers, whose job it is to find and express character through clothing, work with prisoners and uniforms. 
Outsider Art was always something Katy and I were interested in. 

Anyway, the shop took a different course and I never really thought about that idea much again.

But yesterday I was reading this quarter's Selvedge magazine where there's an article about prison clothing and I was reminded of the exhibition idea and Agnes Richter's jacket which I had become aware of around the same time. I can't remember which website I originally discovered the jacket on, I read about it such a long time ago, so I rummaged around again this morning and found a few listings with information - here and here

Agnes was a mental patient in Austria in the 1890's and the jacket was standard issue of the time. The embroidery is beautiful and intense. Fascinating, unstoppable self expression. 

NOTE: The jacket is in The Prinzhorn collection in Heidelberg, which is where the photograph originally stems, I haven't linked to the collection because the English translation isn't working today.