Collaborators, Rowena Meadows and Mikaela Martin live in different hemispheres. After finding two matching 1970s bridesmaid dresses in a local op shop in Nyack, New York, Mikaela kept one and sent the other to Rowena, in Melbourne. At that point, neither artist realised the introspective self portraits they would inspire, or how essential these characters would become to their lives and friendship.
The pink dress is a ticket back to our girlhood and a loving embrace of our own whimsical nostalgia, and yet it wields a knife. It is a 1970s polyester-chiffon pastiche of Victorian femininity which we turned into some kind of postfeminist fuck you.
The call-and-response portraits made in these dresses are distress signals as much as they are postcards to a friend. I used to read letters and cards to and from my mothers friends. All the unremarkable family news, holiday highlights and home renovation updates must have held other secrets between the lines. What were they really longing to say? Did they ever? Are we our mothers? And what about our daughters, will they read between our lines?
The past year of visual dialogue between these dresses has allowed me to connect with previously unstoried versions of myself, past and present. Theres been a subtle, tandem shift in conversation from something unsettling and constrained to something that speaks of expansion, re-imagined freedoms and integration of the competing identities motherhood and domesticity can sometimes mute. It’s a story of self reclamation and making peace with the inner duality of woman and girl, freedom and commitment, abandon and control. It’s finding light in windowless walls.