• Sarah Jane

Cloth & Embroidery....

As an initial experiment into exploring ideas of workplace sexism and craft, I decided to embroider into jay cloths that are similar to the cloths we use at work. I felt that this connection between my workplace and my practice was interesting and allowed for potential development into some interesting ideas of what to do next.


I had bought a pack of 3 cloths, each with a different purpose and each in a different colour and different cloth type. I decided to embroider different slogans on to each, one being something I was asked constantly in my last job - 'go make us a cup of tea', the second had a workplace statistic which showed the difference in numbers in terms part-time workers. 5.85 million part-time workers are women, whereas only 2.11 million are men. There are obvious reasons as it's most likely more women who work-part are mothers, but it is interesting how there are not as many male part-time workers. For the last cloth I chose to embroider words that I was described as in my last job. Words such as 'aggressive', 'bossy', 'abrupt' and 'abrasive'.

For the first cloth, I chose this slogan as it was the most commonly asked question. It would always be asked to the female staff members who's job it was to serve customers not the manager's requests. I find that giving these demeaning tasks to women is degrading and wrong and it shouldn't be the case in today's society. It stuck very clearly in my mind, and I think it should be made aware of that female workers do not come in to work to make cups of tea or do household chores, we come there to work just like the men do and I think that should be respected in any workplace.

For the second cloth, as I mentioned above I chose this statistic as it was shocking to see the difference in numbers in relation to part time workers and gender. Of course there are many factors to consider when discussing these numbers, the women could be mothers and/or household dependents. However the number of women workers have increased and the total amount of female workers in the UK aged between 16-64 is at 70% which equates to 46.2 million (including both full time and part time) however the amount of male workers in the UK is still higher at 79% or approx. 52 million (also including full-time and part-time). There has definitely been an increase in female works since the 70s, and more and more women are landing jobs in leadership and government which shows how much society has changed. I do think that I want to do a few of these statistic based pieces, with statistics that are current and showcases not only the increases, but the ongoing differences in numbers, and how women are still not being given equal chances at employment for whatever reason.

Finally, for the last cloth I wanted to highlight how women are treated in the workplace. I have read that many women workers have been called 'bossy' in leadership positions but their male counterparts are revered and respected. I find this really annoying and sexist and I feel that women shouldn't have to be degraded for acting how a man would act in the same position. I also wanted bring my own experiences to light, and to be able to stitch them onto a cloth demonstrates how they've been stitched onto my own confidence and self, and how I cannot let go of these words no matter how hard I try. They still hurt and leave an imprint on my mind. I do have an idea to continue with this idea and to possibly embroider different words that have been used against other women, and to make a series out of them. I also had the idea to stitch on patches of fabric with embroidered text onto the cloths, but I think I need to plan and research the types of materials that I want to use in relation to the workplace.


Overall, I think this is a successful experiment in the use of craft, themes of workplace sexism and art. However I think to develop these further I need to research into different text and statistics, as well as think about my sources for my text, do I want to ask other women for their experiences? I also need to think about the materials and how they work with embroidery as well. Do I want materials directly linking to my workplace? Do I want them to be more general? I definitely want to continue with this and to develop it further. I might bring back the cushion idea and make cushions out of workplace materials with text on the top, to bring back the domestic theme with the workplace ideas.

Things to do next:

-explore materials?

-look into sources for text?

-different experiences?



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