Molly Huxley is in her final term of her BA in Fine Art at the University of Leeds. She feeds on the rich textiles history of the city and intends to continue developing this body of work in the city where garments were made and forgotten about.
Through the collection of unwanted clothing, both purchased and found, Molly Huxley contemplates the life lived by each garment. Huxley pays homage to the unknown owner, exalting each item as though they were the most cherished Sunday best. She asks why they came to rest in a second-hand shop? Or how they were dropped by the roadside? These are questions that are rarely possible to answer, much like the objects that reside in museums. They remain anonymous, silent. As a substitute, the artist envisages the histories of these inanimate objects.
Huxley constructs shirts, jackets, trousers, dresses and gloves from the scraps of tattered clothing, as stand-ins for the owners who once wore them. Her garments are wearable, but never worn. She works to produce an anti-aesthetic, constructing clothes that are slightly odd and peculiar. Cutting blind, without following a pattern, the artist is more interested in the idea of a body than a body itself.
The work speaks of the absence of the wearer. Each one is a work fiction, a fabrication of a possible truth. She imagines a persona for each ensemble. The artist considers what their occupation would be, how they speak and the way in which they may interact with each other. The work on display, Ensembles of Tatterdemalions is part of a series of garments. Presented like three sitters for a painting, they reside in conversation. Like a Victorian Tableau Vivant. Each piece is made to intentionally to unsettle. The name of the series is an important part of the work as tatterdemalion, by dictionary definition, is defined as a person in tattered clothing.
The artist is fascinated by the idea of the uncanny, locating strangeness in the ordinary. This is the peculiar and unsettling feeling that can be evoked by objects that we use every day.
The work is also influenced by the small boy’s jacket that is exhibited in Leeds City Museum. Huxley is interested by the ontology of the object. She wonders about the identity of the person who made the jacket, and the child that it may have belonged to. She also draws further inspiration from the characters in Commedia dell’arte as the actors relied so heavily on their costume to tell the audience much about the tropes of the character.