Few accessories have lived as complicated a life as the headscarf. The versatile fabric square has been chosen by and impressed upon people for political, religious and practical purposes for centuries. It has been favoured by revolutionaries and royalty alike. It can be either conservative or rebellious. Beyond its utilitarian origins as a source of protection from the elements, the headscarf remains at the centre of contentious debate about women’s rights, identity, power and class. Amber Nicole Alston
Commonwear is a giant patchwork made from donated and collected headscarves. A landscape perhaps, a place of flowers and soil and patterns made by plants and tractors. Like the fields I work on our family farm in South Lincolnshire. And just like this agricultural place the scarves are complex and contested – layered with meaning. Each scarf, like each field, holds a story, tells of a time, a person and function.
Commonwear was created for my artist residency within the Together we are Powerful at the Hub/National Centre of Craft (5 month long coproduced program that I developed with them and ther extended community). During the exhibition I invited visitors to tell their scarf stories and attach it to a giant pin cushion.
This work is a sister piece to Commonware also developed and shown within the wider project